Dusky GrouseDendragapus obscurus

adult male, displaying
Tom J. Ulrich/VIREO
adult female
J.D. Phillips/VIREO
adult male
Robert A.
Dusky Grouse

Description

15 1/2 -21" (39-53 cm). A large grouse. Male dusky gray or bluish gray, with orange-yellow or red comb over eye, patch of reddish or purplish skin on neck surrounded by rosette of white feathers, some mottling on wings, and blackish tail with pale gray terminal band. Birds in Rockies lack terminal tail band. Females and immatures mottled brown with dark tail. Paler than closely related Sooty Grouse.

Voice

Male gives a series of deep hoots, whoop, whoop, whoop, whoop, whoop, increasing in tempo and volume.

Habitat

Burned areas, brush in coastal rain forest; montane forests, slashes, and subalpine forest clearings.

Range

Resident inland from southern Yukon and Northwest Territories south to California, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico.Birds found along the Pacific coast from southeast Alaska and British Columbia to central California are the closely related Sooty Grouse.

Discussion

The Dusky Grouse can be even harder to locate than the closely related Sooty Grouse, because the male's call is both softer and even lower pitched. It is worth the effort, however, because as he hoots, the male fans his tail over his back, spreads the feathers on his neck to reveal the patch of brightly colored skin, and erects the combs over the eyes, producing a striking display. In winter this grouse feeds exclusively on conifer needles; its summer diet consists of insects, seeds, and berries. Until recently, this bird and the coastal Sooty Grouse were considered the same species.

Nesting

5-10 cream-colored eggs, lightly spotted with brown, in a scrape lined with pine needles and grass, usually sheltered by a stump or rock.

Similar Species

adult (gray)

Ruffed Grouse

16-19" (41-48 cm). A brown or gray-brown, chicken-like bird with slight crest, fan-shaped, black-banded tail, barred flanks, and black "ruffs" on sides of neck.

adult male, displaying

Sooty Grouse

20" (51cm) The shy, subtly plumaged birds of western pine and fir forests know as Blue Grouse were split into two species in 2006. The Pacific coastal species, Sooty Grouse (D.

adult male

Spruce Grouse

15-17" (38-43 cm). A dark, chicken-like bird with a fan-shaped tail. Male dusky gray-brown, with red comb over eye, black throat and upper breast, white-spotted sides, chestnut-tipped tail.

Vireo

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