Spruce Grouse: Medium grouse with barred, dark gray-brown upperparts, black underparts show white bars on breast, white chevrons on sides, belly. Throat is white-bordered black; red eye combs. Tail is either black with fine white spots near base (Franklin's) or black with rufous-brown tip (Tiaga).
Range and Habitat
Spruce Grouse: Found in coniferous forests of extreme northern U.S., throughout boreal forests of Canada, and Alaska. Prefers dense pine forests of early to mid successional stages. Also found in spruce forests.
The Spruce Grouse has great confidence in its camouflage, and will often stay still even when approached within a few feet. It is this characteristic that has earned them the nickname "Fool Hens".
During the winter months, however, they become very skittish due to a lack of camouflage; they take flight when approached within 20-150 feet.
In winter, when the bird must eat more food to maintain its mass and energy balance, the gizzard grows by about 75 percent, and other sections of the digestive tract increase in length by about 40 percent.
A group of grouse has many collective nouns, including a "chorus", "covey", "drumming", "grumbling", and "leash" of grouse.
The Spruce Grouse is a medium-sized bird which prefers to breed in boreal forests and taiga. Their breeding range spans throughout Alaska and Canada, and extends into the northern border areas of the United States. Nests are typically built on the ground amidst dense vegetation on the forest floor. The Spruce Grouse is typically a permanent resident of its habitat. However, some northern populations will fly southward during winter months. Food is foraged on the ground or gleaned from trees. The typical diet of this species consists of conifer needles, berries, green vegetation and insects. The conservation rating for the Spruce Grouse is Least Concern.