- Black Grouse
name = Black Grouse
status = LC | status_system = IUCN3.1
image_width = 200px
image_caption = Female
phylum = Chordata
genus = "
species = "T. tetrix"
binomial = "Tetrao tetrix"
binomial_authority = (Linnaeus, 1758)
The Black Grouse or Blackgame ("Tetrao tetrix") is a large bird in the
grousefamily. It is a sedentary species, breeding across northern Eurasiain moorlandand bogareas near to woodland, mostly boreal. The Black Grouse is closely related to the Caucasian Black Grouse. These birds have a group display or lek in early spring.
As with many Gamebirds, the male is larger than the female at 49-55 cm compared to her 40-45 cm length. The cock is very distinctive, with black plumage, apart from red wattles and a white wingbar, and a
lyre-shaped tail, which appears forked in flight. His song is loud, bubbling and somewhat dove-like.
The female is greyish-brown and has a cackling call. She takes all responsibility for nesting and caring for the chicks, as is typical with gamebirds.
The male and female are sometimes referred to by their folk names, Blackcock and Greyhen respectively.
Reproduction and Distribution
Black grouse have a very distinctive and well recorded courtship ritual or game. At dawn in the spring, the males strut around in a traditional area and display whilst making a highly distinctive mating call. This process is called a Lek - the grouse are said to be "lekking".
Black Grouse can be found across
Europefrom Great Britain(but not Ireland) through Scandinaviaand into Russia. In eastern Europe they can be found in Hungary, Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuaniaand Poland. There is a population in The Alps, and isolated remnants in Germany, Denmark, Franceand Holland.
This species is declining in western
Europedue to loss of habitat, disturbance, predation by foxes, crows, etc., and small populations gradually dying out.
They have declined in the UK (especially
England), having disappeared from many of their former haunts. They are now extinctin Lancashire, Derbyshire, Exmoor, East Yorkshire, New Forest, Nottinghamshire, Worcestershire, Quantock Hills, Cornwall, Dartmoor, Kent, Wiltshireand Surrey.
A program to re-introduce Black Grouse into the wild started in 2003 in the
Upper Derwent Valleyarea of the Peak Districtin England. 30 grouse were released in October 2003, followed by 10 male grouse in December 2004 and a further 10 male and 10 female in April 2005. The programme is being run jointly by the National Trust, Severn Trent Waterand Peak District National Park.
Conservation groups helping to revive the Black Grouse include the
RSPBand the Game Conservancy Trust.
Meanwhile, it should be noted that the tails of black-cocks have, since late Victorian times, been popular adornments for hats worn with
Highland Dress. Most commonly associated with Glengarryand Balmoralor Tam O'Shantercaps, they still continue to be worn by pipers of civilian and military pipe-bands. Since 1904, all ranks of the Royal Scotsand King's Own Scottish Borderershave worn them in their full-dress headgear and that tradition is carried on in the dress glengarries of the current Scottish-super regiment, The Royal Regiment of Scotland.
* Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
* [http://www.blackgrouse.info/ Black Grouse in the UK]
* [http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/b/blackgrouse/index.asp RSPB Black Grouse]
* [http://www.gct.org.uk/conservationguide_intro.asp?ImageId=6 Game Conservancy Trust Conservation Guide]
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