Dusky grouse inhabit central Nevada from around Austin, east to the Nevada/Utah border and north to the Idaho/Nevada border. In Washington, it is found in three distinct areas separated by the vast expanse of the largely unforested Columbia Plateau and Okanogan River valley—the east slopes of the north Cascades in Okanogan, Chelan, and northern Kittitas counties; the Okanogan Highlands and Selkirk Mountains of the northeast; and the Blue Mountains of the southeast. Most birds in the wetter, higher-elevation forests are Sooty Grouse, while most of those farther downslope in drier, more open forest, grassland, and shrub-steppe are Dusky Grouse. Both continue to be collectively called blue grouse.  It is closely related to the sooty grouse (Dendragapus fuliginosus), and the two were previously considered a single species, the blue grouse. Dusky Grouse are usually found singly, not in flocks (except for hens with young), and are generally fairly wary. In the woods, an airborne dusky grouse seems to be just as tough to hit as a ruffed grouse, even with its slower takeoff speed. Still, because Montana offers so many places to hunt mountain grouse—duskies and ruffs range west of a line roughly or from Glacier National Park to Ashland in southeastern Montana—we find enough flying birds to give us plenty of shooting. The dusky grouse is a large bird that weighs between 2 and 3 pounds, about 50 percent more than a ruffed grouse. They are quick flyers, better adapted for short bursts of speed than sustained flight. Dusky grouse are game birds across their range and are hunted for their meat. Dusky Grouse Dendragapus obscurus Dusky blues are the second largest grouse species in North America, measuring 17-22 inches in length. Until recently, this and the Sooty Grouse were considered to make up one species under the name Blue Grouse. Typically seen on the ground; easiest to see in mid-summer when females and chicks frequent roadsides and trails. The species ranges from sun-baked bitterbrush steppe to the twisted “krummholz” trees of frigid mountaintops, somehow managing to thrive on a simple diet of plants and insects. Washington is the only state in the United States where the ranges of these two very similar species meet. This group, the "chicken-like" birds, consists of medium to large terrestrial birds.  Their range is closely associated with that of various conifers. In winter, they forage in trees for needles of pines, firs, and other conifers. Dusky Grouse Tétras sombre Dendragapus obscurus Information, images and range maps on over 1,000 birds of North America, including sub-species, vagrants, introduced birds and possibilities This has ceased to be the case, and each is a separate species. Dusky Grouse is locally fairly common in all three of these areas in suitable habitat, mostly at middle elevations but extending up to tree line in the subalpine zone in some localities. Slow-moving and inconspicuous, but often surprisingly tame. References: Slow-moving and inconspicuous, but often surprisingly tame. Till very recently, the dusky grouse and sooty grouse were considered subspecies of the blue grouse. When male displays, ruffles neck feathers to reveal wrinkled purple-red skin and makes deep hooting noise. Adult males are mainly dark with a purplish throat air sac surrounded by white, and a yellow to red wattle over the eye during display. The male is similar but usually darker, with solid blue-gray feathering on the underparts, orange-yellow combs over the eyes, and all-dark tail feathers. Many of the males in this family have loud and dramatic displays. They winter in almost strictly conifer forests. A large, dark grouse of western coastal forests, also living in mountain forest in the Sierras of California. That doesn’t mean they’re always easy to shoot. Adult females are mottled brown with dark brown and white marks on the underparts. In many parts of their Washington range larch and pine needles are the predominant food source. Dusky Grouse is a bird of the Rocky Mountains and the Intermountain West. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., & Sargatal, J., eds. View full list of Washington State's Species of Special Concern. For nearly a century, this species was known as the “Blue Grouse” along with the similar Sooty Grouse … , Adults have a long square tail, gray at the end. In lodgepole pine and Engelmann spruce forests at elevations above 5,000 feet, they may be largely, but not entirely, replaced by Spruce Grouse. Sep 14, 2019 #6 trb Active member. Look for their droppings. Males sing with deep hoots on their territory and make short flapping flights to attract females. The Dusky Grouse (until recently known as the Blue Grouse) is the largest of Montana's three species of mountain grouse. Although it is vulnerable to habitat loss from activities such as grazing and logging, most of its range is in rugged mountains or other territory sparsely settled by humans. They often tame quickly and can become fond of their owners. Until recently, this and the Dusky Grouse were combined as one species, under the name Blue Grouse. (1994). They winter in dense conifer stands, often at a higher elevation than their breeding habitat. The Dusky Grouse still occupies all or nearly all of its original range in Washington. The ranges of Dusky Grouse and Sooty Grouse meet and overlap on the east slope of the Cascades, creating a zone of confusion between the two species. This has ceased to be the case, and each is a separate species. In the breeding season Dusky Grouse inhabit open, relatively dry mixed and conifer forest from the ponderosa pine zone to the subalpine fir zone, and adjacent shrub-steppe, grassland, aspen groves, and alpine meadows. It is popular as a game bird, but its fall migration into dense forest reduces hunting mortality. Short of having a heart attack, there is little more exciting than chasing Dusky grouse deep in the mountains while the aspens are showing off their colors. "Forty-seventh Supplement to the American Ornithologists' Union Check-list of North American Birds", 10.1642/0004-8038(2006)123[926:FSTTAO]2.0.CO;2, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Dusky_grouse&oldid=932711906, Native birds of the Western United States, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 27 December 2019, at 19:41. The species ranges from sun-baked bitterbrush steppe to the twisted “krummholz” trees of frigid mountaintops, somehow managing to thrive on a simple diet of plants and insects. Males have slate-colored upper parts, white-based neck feathers around the air sacs, and yellow-orange eye combs. Dusky grouse are named after the bluish-gray appearance of the male. Dusky Grouse. Dusky grouse are game birds across their range and are hunted for their meat. , These birds forage on the ground, or in trees in winter. In winter, they mainly eat fir and douglas-fir needles, occasionally also hemlock and pine needles; in summer, other green plants (Pteridium, Salix), berries (Gaultheria, Mahonia, Rubus, Vaccinium), and insects (particularly ants, beetles, grasshoppers) are more important. Range of the Blue Grouse Species. Females lay and incubate 1–12 buffy, lightly speckled eggs (normally 4–9). Adult females are mottled brown with dark brown and white marks on the underparts.. The spruce grouse, dusky grouse, sooty grouse, and ruffed grouse are found in mountains and forests throughout much of North America. Adults have a long square tail, gray at the end. Nests are a shallow scrape in the ground, sometimes with little or no cover, sparsely lined with dead twigs, needles, leaves, and feathers. Dusky grouse use montane forest communities typically dominated by Ponderosa Pine, Douglas-fir, and occasionally aspen. They are grayish or gray-brown in color with cryptic patterning. Both sexes have long, square tails which are unbarred. Till very recently, the dusky grouse and sooty grouse were considered subspecies of the blue grouse. The Dusky grouse is a high elevation species in New Mexico, are generally found at elevations above 7000 feet. Their breeding habitat is the edges of conifer and mixed forests in mountainous regions of western North America, from southeastern Alaska and Yukon south to New Mexico. However, many birds in this ill-defined transition zone show hybrid characteristics.Click here to visit this species' account and breeding-season distribution map in Sound to Sage, Seattle Audubon's on-line breeding bird atlas of Island, King, Kitsap, and Kittitas Counties. Most grouse leave their breeding grounds by October and return by early April. Large, dark chickenlike bird found in wooded habitats, usually with conifers and shrubby undergrowth. The Dusky Grouse has a large range, not specifically quantified but common in the western United States and Canada. A guide to finding and hunting the Dusky Grouse. Females leave the male's territory after mating.
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