This short-tailed grouse of coniferous forests is often quite tame, allowing close approach by observers. Two subspecies groups occur, Taiga Grouse over most of the range, and Franklin's Grouse in the Northern Rockies and Cascades. Male Taiga: Upperparts are slate gray with pale feather edges. The face and underparts are black, with white lines around the throat and behind the eye, and heavy white barring and spotting on the lower breast and belly. The tail feathers are black with rounded light rufous tips. Red combs over the eyes are enlarged during courtship display. Male Franklin's: Shows less white on the head. The tertials and uppertail coverts have obvious white tips. The tail feathers are square-tipped and all black. Female: Females of both subspecies range from rufous-brown to gray-brown. The underparts are strongly barred throughout, distinguishing this species from Blue and Ruffed Grouse. The tail is dark, with dull rufous tips on Taiga subspecies. Juveniles resemble rufous morph female.
Length: 38 (cm) Wingspan: 56 (cm)
Generally quiet. Males in display may give a rapid series of low hoots. At the end of the courtship flight, Franklin's Grouse gives two loud wing claps. Female gives a high-pitched territorial call. Foraging birds give a sreep call.
Usually found in areas of young trees within coniferous forests. Occasionally uses deciduous forests in winter.
Displaying males raise and spread their tails, droop their wings, raise the eye combs, and fluff their body feathers. Taiga males glide a short distance before fluttering to the ground. Franklin's males glide 50-100 yards, then produce two loud wing claps before settling on the ground.
Pine needles make up the bulk of the diet. Also eats needles of other conifers, fungi, fruit, and insects.
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