Dusky Grouse: Large, chicken-like bird, dark gray to blue-gray plumage, red-orange eye combs, black squared tail with narrow pale gray terminal band. Patch of violet-red skin on neck surrounded by white feathers is displayed during courtship. Formerly (with Sooty Grouse) known as Blue Grouse.
Range and Habitat
Dusky Grouse: Resident from the Yukon and Northwest Territories, south to Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico. Preferred habitats include burned areas, montane forests, slashes, and subalpine forest clearings.
The Dusky Grouse and the Sooty Grouse were considered to be the same species, the Blue Grouse, until the American Ornithologists’ Union split them in 2006 based on DNA evidence.
They have large numbers of eggs in their clutches, as many as fifteen have been observed. Even though hatching success may be as high as 90%, mortality of the young can reach as much as 50% prior to the fall hunting season. This is often due to inclement weather after the hatch as well as a poor food supply or predators.
When flushed, these birds will often fly to an evergreen bough and just freeze at which time one may be able to walk to within a few feet of the bird.
A group of grouse has many collective nouns, including a "chorus", "covey", "drumming", "grumbling", and "leash" of grouse.
The Dusky Grouse has a large range, not specifically quantified but common in the western United States and Canada. It is native to these two nations and prefers boreal or temperate forest ecosystems. The global population of this bird has not been specifically determined, as it is considered common, but it does not appear to meet population decline criteria that would necessitate inclusion on the IUCN Red List. The current evaluation status of the Dusky Grouse is Least Concern.