Sooty Grouse

Dendragapus fuliginosus




Partridges, Grouse, Turkeys, Old World Quail (Phasianidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Pink buff, with small brown spots

Number of Eggs:

7 - 16

Incubation Days:

25 - 26

Egg Incubator:


Nest Location:

Sheltered by log or rock, near the base of tree.

Nest Material:

Conifer needles, grasses, and leaves.





Sooty Grouse: Large, chicken-like bird, dark gray to blue-gray with yellow-orange eye comb, black tail with wide pale gray terminal band. Patch of yellow skin with red veining on neck surrounded by white feathers is displayed during courtship. Female is gray-brown mottled overall, and lacks eye combs and air sacs.

Range and Habitat

Sooty Grouse: Found from southeastern Alaska south to northern California in a narrow range between the coast and the western Rocky Mountains. One exception is an inland range in California's Sierra Nevada Mountains. Prefers semi-open woodlands and mature stands of hemlock, cedar, spruce, and white fir in winter.

Breeding and Nesting

Sooty Grouse: Seven to sixteen pink buff eggs, usually spotted brown, are laid in a ground scrape lined with pine needles and grass, usually sheltered by a stump or rock. Incubation ranges from 25 to 26 days and is carried out by the female. Precocial young leave nest soon after hatching.

Foraging and Feeding

Sooty Grouse: Feeds almost exclusively on conifer needles in winter. In spring, summer, and fall, their diet includes the leaves of herbs, flowers, ferns, and conifer needles. They also eat many fruits and seeds, including cherries, currents, huckleberries, and strawberries. Forages on the ground.


Sooty Grouse: Male gives a series of deep hoots "whoop, whoop, whoop, whoop, whoop", increasing in tempo and volume.

Similar Species

Sooty Grouse: Spruce Grouse has white bars on breast, barred back, and brown terminal tail band.

Only found in male birds and consists of a colored area over the eye. A well developed comb can also signal (sexual) health to a potential mate.

Terminal bandX
Refers to the contrasting stripe at the tip of the tail.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X