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Blue Grouse Dendragapus obscurus


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Blue Grouse, Rocky Mountain male
credit: NPS

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Family: Phasianidae, Pheasants and Grouse view all from this family

Description ADULT MALE Has lilac-gray underparts and gray-brown upperparts with white spots and streaks on wings and flanks. Orange-yellow wattle above eye, and reddish orange neck sac, are prominent only in display. Tail is dark with faint pale terminal band. ADULT FEMALE Similar to, but smaller than, male and with more mottled and marbled plumage. Wattle and neck sac are absent. JUVENILE Similar to adult female, but has more extensive pale streaking on back.

Dimensions Length: 15 1/2 -21" (39-53 cm)

Habitat Generally common, but found at low densities. In mixed woodland for much of year, but favors conifer forests in winter.

Observation Tips Usually solitary. Not unduly wary, but unobtrusive and hence often hard to locate. A displaying male is a fantastic sight.

Range Alaska, California, Rocky Mountains, Southwest, Northwest, Western Canada

Voice Both sexes utter low growls. Displaying males hoot.

Discussion Plump-bodied grouse with long tail and neck. Male's otherwise rather unremarkable plumage is transformed during display by broadly fanned tail, puffed-up body feathers and colorful, inflated neck sac fringed by white feathers. Feeds on shoots, leaves, and berries in summer; winter diet is mostly conifer needles. Sexes are dissimilar.