Found from Alaska through most of Canada and the northern United States, dipping farther south in the Rocky and Appalachian Mountains (with isolated populations in other mountain ranges in the United States).
In most parts of range, found in aspen forests, but in parts of the United States, found in young, open, mixed deciduous-coniferous forests.
Capable of digesting very fibrous material. Eats aspen tree buds and twigs in the winter, and seeds, fruits, berries, and leaves in the summer. Uses several techniques to cope with harsh winters in the north temperate and subarctic regions, including frequent feeding and using fat reserves to decrease heat loss and satisfy greater metabolic needs.
Generally nests on the ground at the base of a tree, but also in deadfalls, brushpiles, or at the base of a shrub. Produces only one brood per season, and the clutch size range is 9-14 eggs. Nests are occasionally parasitized by Wild Turkeys and Ring-necked Pheasants. Brood mixing and adoption sometimes occur. Chicks are quite mature when they hatch and usually leave the nest after less than a day.