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Spruce Grouse (Canachites canadensis)

spruce grouse


  • Spruce grouse are small birds, only 38 centimetres (15 inches) long.


  • Males and females are very similar, but females are barred with more brown on the back.
  • The males of both Alberta races of this species have red combs above the eyes that are usually hidden by feathers.
  • Males tails are black, tipped with pale brown.
  • Franklin's grouse, a variety of spruce grouse, have no brown tip. They have, however, white spots on the sides of the base of the tail.
  • Found throughout the coniferous forests of northern Alberta and the Rocky Mountains.
Natural History


  • Spruce grouse feed almost entirely on conifer needles in winter.
  • In spring and summer they also eat insects, leaves and berries.
Reproduction and Growth

Breeding Behaviour

  • In spring, the male sets up a territory in a forest opening.
  • As part of his display to attract a hen, he struts about, eye combs inflated and tail feathers erect and fanned. He then flutters from the low bough of a tree to the ground, producing low drumming sounds that end with a sharp wing-clap just before he lands.
  • Hens build nests of leaves and grass, often in moss under spruce trees. The clutch consists of six or seven eggs, mottled light and dark brown.
  • Eggs hatch in about 21 days. Chicks remain with the hen throughout the summer.
Conservation and Management


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

Current management


Specific season information 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 8, 2009