Bird Families

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Field teterev (Lyrurus tetrix)

  • belongs to the grouse family. This is a rather slender bird with a strong beak, legs, feathered not only to the toes, but also between them, short wings, blunt and trough-like concave from the inside, the tail of males has a characteristic deep notch. The plumage of males in general is black, the head, neck and lower back are blue, on the wings there is a white sling, the lower plumage of the tail is pure white. He is almost as dense in constitution as the capercaillie, but more agile. He is very sensitive, his eyesight and hearing are excellent. The voice of black grouse is different, depending on gender, their calling cry is a sonorous, abrupt whistle, while at the time of mating, the cry of males contains such a variety of sounds that can hardly be expected from this usually silent bird.

Alfred Brehm Russian Hunting.- Publ .: Eksmo, 2011.

The area of ​​distribution of the black grouse covers approximately the same countries as that of the capercaillie, but it does not occur so far to the south and goes somewhat further to the north. In the Caucasus, the place of the black grouse is occupied by the Caucasian black grouse, akin to it, discovered only in 1875.

The food of the black grouse is different from the food of the capercaillie: it is more tender and consists of buds, leaves, berries, grains and insects. In summer he eats blueberries, lingonberries, raspberries and blackberries, in winter - juniper berries, buds of heather, birch and beech, and sometimes green cones of conifers, they never touch the needles. Chicks are almost exclusively fed on insects.

Males and females live by themselves, but in more or less numerous flocks. The grouse currents should be considered the most beautiful spring show. In mid-May, the grouse is prepared for laying. Its nest is a simple hole dug in the ground and lined with a few twigs, it is nestled as far as possible in a safe place, between tall grass, under bushes, etc.


LARGE STEPPE TEETER (Tympanuchus cupido)

  • differs from other black grouse in two long tufts of narrow feathers hanging down on both sides of the neck and covering two bare spots here. The plumage of the upper side of the body is variegated: black, red, white, on the lower side - brown and white. His homeland is North America.

Alfred Brehm Russian Hunting.- Publ .: Eksmo, 2011.

Unlike others, the steppe black grouse is found only in treeless plains - dry, sandy fields overgrown with sparse shrubs or low grass. Its food consists of both plants and all kinds of small animals: in summer it feeds on meadows and fields, in autumn in gardens and vineyards, in winter - in places where many berries grow. Steppe grouse chicks hatch once a year, but if their eggs disappear for any reason, then they proceed to the second clutch, which is always fewer than the first.

Description of the bird

Black grouse, or black grouse, or field grouse is a common bird of the pheasant family that lives in the forest, forest-steppe and partly steppe zones of Eurasia, including on the territory of Russia. Throughout its range, a resident or nomadic bird settles on forest edges, along the edge of the forest, in the valleys of large rivers. Hunting object.

Grouse is a rather large bird with a small head and short beak. Males are larger in size than females, their body length is from 49 to 58 cm, their weight is in the range of 1-1.4 kg, and females reach 40 to 45 cm in length, and their weight is 0.7-1 kg.

In the color of the plumage of the black grouse, sexual dimorphism is also pronounced. The male has a brilliant black plumage with a purple or green sheen in the head, neck, goiter and lower back, bright red eyebrows. The belly behind is brown with light tops of feathers, the undertail is white. Primary flight feathers are dark brown in color, with "mirrors" - spots of white on the lower half of 1 to 5 feathers. The “mirrors” are even more pronounced on the secondary flight feathers. The tail feathers on the tail are black with a purple sheen on the tops, the outer tail feathers are bent to the sides, which is why the tail of the grouse is lyre-shaped. The female is motley, reddish-brown in color with transverse stripes of gray, dark yellow and black-brown. Outwardly, it resembles a female capercaillie, but differs in white "mirrors" on the wings and a small notch on the tail. The undertail is white. Young birds are motley feathered, their color consists of stripes and spots of black-brown, yellow-brown and white.

Distribution area

Black grouse is widespread throughout the forest belt of Europe and Siberia, but in northern Siberia it does not go east of the Lena, and in the south it reaches only the river. Ussuri. The northern border of the distribution of black grouse in Europe almost coincides with the border of the forest. Black grouse, in contrast to wood grouse, is not a pure forest bird, he feels great in dense thickets of bushes and weeds - not without reason, in some places his name is "Polyash". Only persecution by humans has led to the fact that in our time the black grouse almost does not nest outside the forest. But here, too, he gives a clear preference to rare deciduous forests and birch forests, fires and clearings over dense coniferous massifs.

Blue Grouse / Dendragapus obscurus

The blue grouse is native to North America. In color, it is a little like the Canadian wild grouse, but its plumage colors are duller, smoky. In size, it is twice the size of the Canadian grouse, about the same as our black grouse. Like wild grouses, the blue grouse leads an inconspicuous way of life, inhabiting the coniferous and mixed forests of the Rocky Mountains, but, unlike Siberian grouses, during the nesting time it prefers more open places - grassy meadows with separate groups of trees. Male blue grouse have yellow or red patches of bare skin on the sides of their necks.

During the leaking, they swell up with bright bubbles under the pressure of the easily stretchable esophagus, which is greatly inflated by the leaking bird. These bubbles serve as a kind of resonators, amplifying the sounds of a special marriage song, consisting of 5-6 separate abrupt low notes, like "up..up .. up .. up .. up ..". The areas of bare skin on the neck are otherwise hidden by surrounding feathers, colored the same as the rest, but with white bases. When these areas of skin are swollen with bright blisters during leaking, the surrounding feathers stand upright and their white bases create bright white corollas around the red blisters, which gives the lecturing male an unusual and very beautiful appearance.

The nesting life of the blue grouse is the same as that of the Siberian Grouse. In the winter, they climb the mountains, into the belt of continuous coniferous forests, where all the winter months they feed almost exclusively on the needles of spruces, fir and pseudo-pineapple.

Caucasian Grouse / Lyrurus mlokosiewi

The Caucasian black grouse is similar to the common black grouse, but slightly smaller and slightly different in color of plumage. In males, it is dull or velvety black, almost without shine, there is no mirror on the wing. The outer rudders are bent more downward than to the sides. In the female, the streaks are smaller and more uniform, forming a streaky pattern. The Caucasian black grouse is widespread in an extremely limited area - within the alpine belt of the Main Caucasian ridge and the Lesser Caucasus, at an altitude of 1500 to 3000 m above sea level. The Caucasian black grouse inhabits alpine meadows covered with rich vegetation, thickets of rhododendron and undersized birch; in winter, it occurs in the subalpine upper forest and on the warming up of the lower part of the alpine zone.

Red Grouse / Tympanuchus americanus

The meadow black grouse is somewhat smaller than the common black grouse, but differs from it, as well as from other black grouses, in two bunches of long feathers on the sides of the neck. Under these bundles, bare skin and subcutaneous sacs, communicating with the windpipe, are hidden. In the spring, during the mowing, the meadow grouse inflates these bags and makes sounds similar to the beat on a large drum. In its general appearance, the meadow grouse resembles a capercaillie, and in its movements - domestic chickens. Male and female have the same variegated coloration with dark transverse stripes on the underside.

The meadow grouse is widespread in North America, where it inhabits treeless plains. Most often it keeps on dry glades, overgrown with sparse bushes or low grass. It does not avoid meadow grouse and cultivated fields, where it often goes out to feed. The meadow grouse is predominantly a land bird. The meadow grouse sits on trees only in bad weather or in order to feed on berries. The meadow grouse feeds on both plant and animal feed. From the first, he eats the tips of young leaves, seeds of wild and cultivated plants, all kinds of berries, from the second - various insects and their larvae, snails and other invertebrates. The meadow grouse is one of the most popular game birds.

Pointed Grouse / Tympanuchus phasianellus

The sharp-tailed grouse got its name from two pairs of narrow, sharply elongated feathers in the center of the tail, protruding several centimeters beyond its edge, with the central pair being the longest. The color of this species is of the same patronizing character as that of the steppe black grouse, differing only in the details of the pattern and in the longitudinal rather than transverse striation of the chest.

Males and females are colored the same, but the females are somewhat smaller and have a shorter tail. Adult birds, like hazel grouses, have a small crest. It is one of the most common and abundant species of American black grouse, distributed from the forest tundra to the prairies and from the Rocky Mountains to the Great Lakes.

The pointed-tailed grouse is also characterized by group mating, and in the mating ritual of males, the most interesting is the so-called "dance". Spreading open wings and raising its tail vertically, the male swiftly stomps his feet, slowly moving along a complex trajectory, somewhat resembling a clockwork toy azroplane.

Sagebrush Grouse / Centrocercus urophasianus

The wormwood grouse is the most unusual of the American black grouse and also the largest of them. Males weigh about 3 kg, females - 1.7 kg. Males and females are similarly colored in modest grayish-sandy colors, and only on the belly there is a black-brown spot. The wormwood grouse is remarkable, first of all, because in its distribution and daily life it is closely related to the thickets of shrub wormwood on the desert foothills of the Rocky Mountains. These plants serve as both a shelter and the main source of food for him throughout the year.

Constant feeding on tender leaves of wormwood gradually led to atrophy of the gastric muscle, so powerfully developed in all chickens, and the transformation of the stomach into a highly extensible thin-walled organ. Wormwood grouse are polygamy. Males gather in the spring for traditional lekking sites, usually located on the tops of hills, and even at the beginning of the 20th century. there were known currents, where hundreds of birds gathered. The current ritual of males is extremely peculiar. There are no ups, no jumps, no song vocalizations.

Great Grouse / Tympanuchus cupido

The great steppe grouse inhabits the open prairie and forest-steppe of the central regions of North America. In size, it is slightly inferior to the common black grouse: old males usually weigh no more than 1100 g, females are somewhat smaller. By color, males and females are almost indistinguishable - uniformly variegated, with a striated pattern, especially pronounced on the chest, and a predominance of sandy and yellowish-brown tones. This color is clearly patronizing and makes the birds unobtrusive against the background of burnt grass. Males are easily recognizable thanks to peculiar decorating feathers - "ears", growing in two tufts on the sides of the upper part of the neck.

At the beginning of the XX century. the great steppe black grouse, using the fields of grain crops as the main food base, noticeably increased in number and expanded its range up to the southern regions of Canada, but soon the intensification of agriculture and excessive hunting backfired. Currently, this species is preserved in only a few places in the midwestern United States, and its numbers have become so small that it is listed on the IUCN Red List.

Lifestyle and behavior

Kosachi prefer to live in such forests where there are open areas: as a rule, small-sized groves, woodlands. They often settle along the edges of agricultural land or flood meadows, in burnt-out areas or clearings. Gloomy dense forests are avoided. They prefer birch forests, less often - heather heathlands and swamps. The birch forest is the most beloved place that the black grouse longs to get for living, it is not for nothing that in Germany, for this sympathy of birds, they were nicknamed birch! Earlier, birds settled in the steppes, but in the course of the development of agriculture, these lands passed to man, who pressed the winged giants.

These birds prefer to place their nest on the ground, having specially chosen a safe place in dense bushes or thickets. Sometimes a small depression in the ground is chosen for the "dwelling". Building a nest is the responsibility of the female, the male will not take any part in this process. The finished “dwelling” is insulated with feathers and dry grass. The grouse lays about 6-8 eggs and incubates them herself. After about a month, sometimes three weeks, the chicks hatch. In the first days of life, larvae and insects will become their food. However, adult birds prefer plant foods: buds, leaves, berries, juniper cones, flowers and seeds.

Caucasian black grouse more willingly settle in thickets of rhododendron and rose hips, inhabit small juniper groves and nest among low-growing birches. Nests are placed in shrubs or on meadow slopes, the female is engaged in incubating eggs and taking care of the offspring. Eggs are usually no more than six. Like ordinary black grouse, Caucasian representatives prefer to stay in flocks; in winter, females tend to stick to males.

During the spring months, birds climb trees to sample fresh buds or shoots. Having hooked on the trunk with strong paws, they can hang upside down for a long time. Birds do not like to change their place of residence, which was the reason for their almost complete destruction: it was not difficult for hunters to find the nests of these big beauties.

What does the black grouse eat?

Black grouse is mainly a herbivorous bird... They consume animal food at an early age, as chicks, but over time it ceases to be of great importance to them. A special variety in feed is observed during spring and summer. Then the black grouse in large volumes eats seeds, flowers, buds, inflorescences, leaves of numerous shrub and herbaceous plants, which vary depending on the geographic region.

In winter, black grouse mainly pecks up shoots, catkins and tree buds - aspen, willow, alder and birch. He also eats "winter" pine cones and juniper berries. But the grouse chicks in the first days of their life need exclusively animal food and eat flies, mosquitoes, cicadas, spiders, bedbugs, ants, caterpillars, beetles and other insects.The digestive system of an adult black grouse must necessarily contain small stones that facilitate the digestion of feed, contributing to their grinding.


Huddled in large flocks for the winter, by the end of winter, black grouse begin to stay in the areas of future currents and soon split into separate groups: in one we see only males, in the other - females. As soon as the March sun begins to warm up, the black grouse begin to mow. The timing of the emergence of the current to a decisive extent depends on the geographical location of the area and climate, as well as on the timing of the onset of spring. Therefore, they cannot be uniform and fluctuate greatly. So, in one of the springs, the beginning of mating was noted: in the Yaroslavl region on March 7, in the Pskov region on March 12, and in the Kaluga region on March 22. By this time, males have greatly swollen eyebrows and more and more belligerent mood towards other roosters is manifested.

Typical places of grouse currents in the middle lane are floor places, stubble and fallow lands adjacent to a birch grove or mixed forest, forest edges overgrown with rare bushes and trees and large clearings among the forest, sandy manes among flooded river floodplains, and sometimes a vast moss swamp among large trees, etc. In March, the kosachs sing in the trees, but with the formation of thawed patches they begin to walk on the ground.

In early spring, mating begins shortly before sunrise, at five o'clock in the morning, in April - at about four o'clock, by the end of the month - at three o'clock, and in May - at two o'clock in the morning. From the middle of spring, blackies also turn in the evening, from about seven o'clock until sunset. In the midst of the current, the roosters, in good, warm weather, sing until ten o'clock in the morning, after which they fly away one by one to the forest to feed.

Black grouse usually spend the night not far from their currents. Best of all, black grouse spawn in clear, quiet, slightly cold weather. Grouse first arrive in the area of ​​the current only for two to three hours. Later, from the middle of spring, they appear on the outskirts of the current at dawn, betraying their presence with a clap. The mating process itself usually occurs near the current, but often outside it.

The period of high current takes place in an atmosphere of fierce fights between the showering roosters. As a rule, adults, strong braids sing in the center of the current, and young people huddle on the outskirts of the current. One of the old roosters arrives first and begins to mow. Often, young blackies prefer to sing alone, away from the main current. The poking rooster, although it loses its usual caution at moments of excitement (especially during a fight), continues to hear and see everything around it perfectly.

On average, the duration of the spring mating of black grouse is six to seven weeks, but in late springs it often lasts for two and a half to three months. The first to leave the current are old and adult birds: the roosters huddle in the lining to molt, and the black grouse, having finished the full clutch of eggs, begin to incubate. The mating of young blacklings can be observed in June, and in some cases even in July, but with a much lower intensity. Most of the females sit on eggs in mid-May.

At first, the chicks feed on earthworms and insects, and when they grow up, they begin to eat plant food (berries, seeds, leaves, etc.). Broods, having reached a certain age, unite in flocks and wander in search of food throughout the forest.

Enemies and Limiting Factors

The most dangerous predators for black grouse are foxes, martens, wild boars and goshawks. The common fox often sniffs out black grouses under the snow, where they hide in severe frosts. She, as well as representatives of the weasel family (especially the sable), often hunt for a brood of chickens during the breeding season. Goshawks attack black grouse at any time of the year, especially often in autumn and winter.

Natural predators do not have a significant impact on the change in the number and distribution of black grouse, although over the past decades, their pressure on black grouse has increased significantly. A much greater danger for them is represented by human economic activity - draining and ennobling heather wastelands, forest plantations, the use of fertilizers in agriculture and cattle grazing in alpine meadows. Only since the 1970s, the distribution of black grouse in Central and Western Europe has decreased very sharply, and now its range in this region has broken down into small fragments, mainly high in the mountains.

The number of birds in populations usually does not exceed 100-200 birds, and only in the Alps can a stable situation be observed. Other anthropogenic negative factors for the spread of birds are also human disturbance (tourism, skiing, picking up mushrooms and berries, etc.), the construction of power lines, and uncontrolled hunting. For example, in Norway alone, collisions with wires kill more than 26,000 birds a year. Long-term cold snaps during the breeding season and warm winters with frequent changes of heat and cold, during which a thin film of ice forms on the snow, are considered natural factors that significantly reduce the number of black grouse.

Interesting Facts

  • Grouse females make quick, cackling sounds "ko-ko", at the end the birds stretch them out. Males mutter loudly and for a long time; when danger approaches, they emit a dull sound "chuu-ish".
  • The loud song of males can be heard only during the mating season, in the second half of March and in April. But during the summer molt, which occurs in July, the black grouse is usually silent.
  • Black grouses often appear on stamps of different countries. The Caucasian black grouse is depicted on a 1 ruble silver coin issued by the Bank of Russia on October 24, 1995.
  • In Russia and the Scandinavian countries, the black grouse is one of the most popular game hunting birds, the number of carcasses shot is greater only for the ptarmigan and hazel grouse. In the early 1990s, about 120,000 of these birds were shot annually in Russia.
  • Black grouse have pronounced sexual characteristics: even an inexperienced one will not confuse males and females. Females are variegated, brown-gray, less often dark yellow, make sounds similar to clucking, and males are black, with a green or purple tint, and have a clear voice.
  • Males take almost no part in raising chicks. Females are engaged in arranging the nest and taking care of the young. They feed babies and carefully hide them from danger.
  • If females see an approaching predator, they will divert attention to themselves, running away from the nest, in order to save the chicks in this way.