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Sooty Grouse - BirdForum Opus

Displaying male
Photo by DennisC
Hurricane Ridge road, Olympic National Park, Washington, USA, May 2007
Dendragapus fuliginosus


Male 47–57 cm (18½-22½ in); female 44–48 cm (17-19 in)
Mottled brown, chicken-like birds with a dark tail.
Males: have a yellow comb above the eye that can be raised during displays, and black-tipped white feathers on the neck that cover reddish patches of bare skin, which are inflatable during displays. Grey band on tail
Females: are mottled brown above and mottled gray below. Brown tail with grey band.


Photo by cassowary
Mono lake, California

Northern populations of Dusky Grouse (Nevada-Idaho border north) lack the blue-gray tail band seen in Sooty Grouse, but Dusky Grouse in the southern part of the species range (Nevada, Utah, southward) do have the tail band.


Western Canada and western states of the USA in mountainous regions.



Four subspecies accepted[2]:

Was until 2006 considered conspecific with Dusky Grouse under the name Blue Grouse.


Conifer and mixed forests, shrub, desert, tundra, up to 3,600m. Not found in arid regions or plains.


Relatively tame, they often allow close approach before walking or running into thickets.


The male inflates its colorful air sac during courtship to produce owl-like hoots that can be heard at considerable distance.

They nest in a ground scrape. Incubation is 25-26 days by the female.


Includes berries, tree buds, twigs, leaves, seed, and insects. In winter the diet includes conifer needles.


Non-migratory, but they move in elevation with the seasons, spending the summers in mixed deciduous forests and winter in conifers at higher elevations.


  1. 47th Supplement to the AOU Checklist
  2. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, J. A. Gerbracht, D. Lepage, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2021. The eBird/Clements checklist of Birds of the World: v2021. Downloaded from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  3. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved November 2016)

Recommended Citation

External Links

GSearch checked for 2020 platform.