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Blue Grouse (Dendragapus obscurus)

blue grouse


  • Blue grouse are large birds, up to 53 centimetres (21 inches) long.


  • Body colour is slate-gray; tail is solid black.
  • Females of this species are stippled with light brown but are otherwise similar in colour to males.
  • In Alberta, blue grouse occur only in the foothills and mountains. They spend their winters in high coniferous forests near timberline.
Natural History


  • Conifer needles and buds make up about 95 percent of the blue grouse winter diet.
Reproduction and Growth

Breeding Behaviour

  • In spring, blue grouse move down to lightly wooded mountain valleys or foothills.
  • Choosing an open area, the male sets up a territory, strutting and hooting to announce his presence and attract females. Yellow-to-orange eye combs are enlarged, and tail feathers are fanned. White-based neck feathers are raised revealing bright yellow or purple skin patches.
  • After mating, the hen chooses a nest site, often at the base of a tree or under a log. She lays from 5 to 10 eggs that are buff-colored, and finely spotted with light brown.
  • Incubation takes about 25 days. When hatched, the brood leaves the nest with the hen.
  • In late summer, large family groups disperse and individual or small groups of birds then make their way up to the forests of their winter range.
Conservation and Management


Blue grouse are classified as Secure in the General Status of Alberta Wild Species report. See:

Current management


Hunting season information for this species is provided in the current Alberta Guide to Hunting Regulations. To view the guide online or to order a printed copy, visit the My Wild Alberta website at:


Page Information

Posted: Apr 7, 2009