Sooty Grouse

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The Sooty Grouse of the Pacific Northwest

The Sooty Grouse is up to 55 cm in length. The male is gray to bluish gray with a red to yellow-orange comb over its eyes. It has a yellow neck sac surrounded by white. The female is spotted brown with a dark tail. Male sooty grouse in the Rocky Mountains have a red neck sac instead of a yellow one.

Sooty Grouse, Grouse, Large Land Birds, Vancouver Island, BC Coastal Region, Pacific Northwest
The Sooty Grouse, Photo By Bud Logan

They are found from British Columbia south to California. The sooty grouse was the blue grouse until 2006 when the blue grouse was split into two species, the other being the dusky grouse. The dusky grouse is found in the Rocky Mountains, from the Southern Yukon and Northern British Columbia, south into northern Arizona and western New Mexico

They are fond of bush areas in coastal rain forests, burned areas, mountain forests, and sub alpine forest clearings.

In warm months, they eats seeds, berries, and insects. In the winter, the sooty grouse eats conifer needles. Some are short distance migratory and, depending on where the food is, travel to either higher or lower elevations.

Sooty Grouse, Birds, Large Land Birds, Vancouver Island, BC Coastal Region, Pacific Northwest
Sooty Grouse, Photo By Bud Logan

The female lays up to 10 eggs in a scrape lined with pine needles and grass. The nest is usually hidden under a bush, log, rocky overhang, or small tree. The female incubates the eggs and cares for the chicks. The chicks hatch after 25 days and soon begin foraging for food. They fledge in about 10 days.

During mating season, the male sooty grouse often perches on a log or post and calls out with a loud booming hoot that can be heard for miles. The comb over his eyes stands up and he fans out his tail and puffs out his neck to display his neck sack. very impressive show to observe.

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