Sooty Grouse

The Sooty Grouse is a large chicken-like bird with dark plumage overall and hints of gray. Males display yellow throat patches and eye combs during courtship. Females have speckled and barred browns throughout their plumage.
SCIENTIFIC NAME
Dendragapus fuliginosus
CLASSIFICATION
Bird
LIFE SPAN
1-5 Years
SIZE
15-19 ” | 1.5-2.5 lbs
STATE CONSERVATION STATUS
  • Priority Species
FEDERAL CONSERVATION STATUS
Least Concern
GAME STATUS
Game
GAME TYPE
Upland Game
  1. Washoe
  2. Humboldt
  3. Pershing
  4. Churchill
  5. Mineral
  6. Lyon
  7. Douglas
  8. Carson City
  9. Storey
  1. Elko
  2. Lander
  3. Eureka
  4. White Pine
  1. Esmeralda
  2. Nye
  3. Lincoln
  4. Clark
  • Alpine forests of the Sierras

Threats

  • Habitat Loss

Natural History

Sooty Grouse occupy a higher elevation range in the spring and summer, and retreat to lower elevations during the winter. This movement results in changes in diet as well. Winter diet consists of conifer needles, buds, and twigs. When spring approaches, they move to a more omnivorous diet of insects, flowers, and berries. They will accompany their diet with small gravel or stones to grind up food in their gizzard. During the breeding season, males display in trees and give off low pitched hoots while flapping their wings. Males do not gather in leks but will become aggressive to other males that enter their display territory. Females create ground nests away from the mating territory, that are usually covered overhead but sometimes exposed.

Fun Facts

Female Sooty Grouse will fearlessly defend their eggs and will take on the offensive for any trespasser around the nest.