Grouse is a medium sized bird. Black grouse is very mobile and endowed with a slender body.
This bird spends a significant part of its life on the ground. However, in winter, grouse feeds almost everywhere on trees.
Black grouse move quickly on the earth's surface. When moving, these birds stretch their necks forward. While the black grouse is sitting on a branch, its body is in a horizontal position. The grouse is characterized by the severity of sexual dimorphism.
The grouse is a semi-sedentary bird, and from time to time it migrates. Inhabits the forest-steppe, often settles on the edges of forests. The first signs of spring are marked by a change in the behavior of the black grouse.
These birds nest right on the ground, usually it is covered by a tree or shrub. Sometimes a small hole in the soil serves as a nest.
The number of eggs in a clutch can vary from four to fourteen. Only the female incubates eggs, and only she brings up the offspring. A week after birth, the goslings can already flip from one place to another.
After birth, chicks need animal food, but as they grow, they consume mainly food of plant origin. Black grouses are considered game birds.
Black grouse myths
Black grouse is capable of fast flight. What's more, he does it with ease. During flight, birds often flap their wings (which, by the way, are strongly curved). Black grouse easily takes off both from trees and from the earth's surface. There is only one difference. The black grouse takes off from the tree almost silently. But this bird comes off the ground quite loudly. An interesting fact is that the black grouse always escapes from pursuit only with the help of its wings (that is, it simply flies away). Flight is never a means of salvation.
The grouse is characterized by the severity of sexual dimorphism. Due to this feature, females are smaller than males. Moreover, for males and females, different colors of plumage are characteristic.
The male has a black desalination color. A green or metallic blue sheen is observed on the lower back, as well as on the goiter, neck and head. On the wing, a small mirror is noticeable (in different individuals it is expressed to an unequal degree) - this is a white transverse stripe. The female black grouse is characterized by a reddish-gray color of the plumage. It is worth noting that the color of the plumage of young black grouse is similar to that of females.
Grouse is a semi-sedentary bird. From time to time, the black grouse moves. However, these migrations are seasonal and insignificant in terms of the distance traveled. True, some years are marked by the fact that black grouse make massive resettlements. Such relocations are most likely associated with a poor harvest of forage in the habitat. Black grouse is a resident of the forest-steppe, often settles on the edges of forests. During the nesting period, this bird prefers birch groves, which are interspersed with grain fields. Often, black grouse make nests in lime and aspen forests, especially if there are extensive clearings next to them, sparse undergrowth or forest edges. An indispensable condition for nesting in this case is the presence of berry fields and dry places. The latter are actually necessary for the construction of nests. In view of all of the above, it is not at all strange that the black grouse rarely settles in high-trunk forests.
Black grouse populate the forest and forest-steppe zones. We are talking about the territory of the eastern part of the Pyrenees and Scotland to Eastern Siberia. Black grouse are also found in the eastern part of Manchuria and the northern part of Mongolia. In the south of its distribution range, black grouse is less common. This is due to the peculiarity that the number of forests here is decreasing, and more and more territories of the steppes are plowed up by man. As for the northern border of the distribution area of these birds, we can note the fact that in the north the territory occupied by black grouse is expanding. This is due to deforestation in these parts.
The arrival of spring is associated with a change in the behavior of the black grouse. The first signs of spring herald these changes. Some revival begins in black grouse, which is a harbinger of the approach of the current period. Gradually, winter flocks of birds begin to disintegrate (this happens in March). Moreover, the beginning of mating (several days) falls on the moment when the flock was not divided. At first, male black grouses mutter in random places. At this time, they are still in the common flock. When the sun warms up, you can hear the muttering of black grouses and see how these birds begin to fight and chase each other. An interesting fact is that black grouse lecturing is carried out on unchanging lekkers, and these birds select forest edges, forest glades, and steppe areas for lectures. There are times when these territories are five to six kilometers away from the forest. Old males are the first to fly to the current. They are followed by strong young black grouse from last year's brood. At this time, weak young black grouse keep only on the outskirts and do not mutter. In general, leaking black grouse reproduce a song in which two components can be distinguished. These are muttering (in the first stage of the current) and chuffing. The muttering of black grouses is a bit like the cooing of pigeons, at first glance it is not loud. However, you can hear the muttering of a black grouse at a distance from it - at a distance of up to three kilometers. In areas where black grouse gather, their muttering completely drowns out the sounds of other birds. The second part of the grouse's song - chuffing - is connected in the midst of the current, and this whole process is accompanied by special movements of the grouse. These birds throw back their heads, raise their tail, unfolded like a fan, and in this form they act importantly. Males, gathered for a current, often fight among themselves. The beginning of the fight is as follows: two males (after they formally stand opposite each other) begin to approach each other. At the same time, their heads are lowered to the ground. Then the rivals jump vertically and try to strike each other, often accompanied by the fact that feathers fly with might and main. Although it is interesting that black grouse never inflict serious damage to opponents during fights. In different places, a different number of males gather for the current. As a rule, their number varies from several to several dozen individuals. In those areas where a high number of black grouse has survived, even more than a hundred birds can gather for the current. What is interesting is the visit by female black grouse of lekking at the beginning of lekking is short in time, and they arrive only to the outskirts. And only when the real current begins, the females often fly to the currents even before the sun rises; they mark their arrival with a characteristic clap. Mating itself can be carried out both on the territory of the current site, and outside it.
Black grouse nest on the ground. As a rule, it is covered with a tree or shrub. Sometimes a small hole in the soil serves as a nest. Its surface is usually laid out with leaves, moss, stems, etc. An indispensable condition is the presence of drupes, strawberries, etc. in the immediate vicinity of the nest of berries. This is necessary so that the brood does not feel hunger after birth. The black grouse nest has the following dimensions. The depth of the tray ranges from four to six centimeters. The diameter of the tray varies from sixteen to twenty two centimeters.
Typically, a full clutch of black grouse eggs contains six to eight eggs. Although the number of eggs can vary from four to fourteen pieces. The color of the eggs is pale ocher. Dark brown spots are observed on their surface. Black grouse eggs have the following dimensions 47-55 x 34-36 mm. The incubation of eggs by females begins only after the last egg has been laid in the nest. For the southern part of the grouse distribution range, this time falls on the beginning of May. For the northern part - at the end of May or beginning of June. An interesting fact is that young female grouse begin to nest later than old ones. If, for whatever reason, the first clutch of eggs died, then the female is able to lay the second clutch. This circumstance is the reason for the elongation of the period when laid eggs of black grouse can be seen in the nests.
Raising chicks is entirely in the "competence" of the mother. Like incubating eggs. As for the males, as soon as the mating is completed, they find secluded places for themselves. This is where they molt. The incubation of eggs lasts from twenty one to twenty five days. In the southern parts of the distribution range of black grouse, chicks hatch already in the first ten days of July. In the northern parts of the distribution range, broods appear in the period from late June to early July. An interesting fact is that immediately after birth, the female black grouse takes her brood away from the nest. At first, she keeps with them near the nest in fairly well-sheltered places. The growth rate of grouse chicks increases sharply after a week of their life. Flight feathers appear on the third or fourth day of life. Then the turn comes to the tail feathers. A week after birth, chicks are able to flip from place to place and even briefly fly up trees. Two weeks after birth, they are already coping well with longer distances. At about one month of age, young black grouse develop their first feather outfit. At the age of one and a half months, goslings are able to spend quite a long time in trees and even spend the night on them. It is worth noting the fact that many chicks die at an early age, and a significant death of eggs is also observed (according to some sources, they are equal to about 10% of the initial clutches). The mortality rate of chicks from the moment of their birth to the beginning of autumn varies from 26 to 55%. This high mortality rate is influenced by several factors. These are both predators and unfavorable climatic conditions. In addition, a certain impact on the death of young animals is associated with grazing in the territories of black grouse nesting sites.
For the first time after birth, grouse chicks adhere to an insignificant territory. As they grow, their movements expand. This is especially related to the search for berries. Transitions of black grouse broods become regular during the ripening period of spring crops. Similar transitions to them are made in the morning and evening. At noon and at night, the grouse return to the forest edges.
Autumn mating is characteristic of black grouse. By the time of its beginning, it falls on the end of summer or the beginning of autumn; intensive mating continues until the end of October. However, even in December-January, you can hear the muttering of individual braids. Moreover, almost only old male black grouse take part in autumn mating. They fly out to the current of the black grouse even before sunrise; males stay on the ground. Black grouse grip throughout the day.
Black grouse rally in flocks immediately after the broods break up. The flocks, which persist throughout the winter period, include both old individuals and young females and males of black grouse. It is common for each flock of black grouses to stay in a certain territory until the food supply is exhausted or a large amount of snow falls. In general, with the onset of winter, birds switch to woody food, since terrestrial food under a layer of deep snow becomes inaccessible. In view of this, black grouse can often be seen sitting on tree branches in winter.
Even in winter, black grouse spend the night on the ground. At the same time, they burrow into the snow. The black grouse is doing this as follows: having thrown itself into the snow from a flight or from a tree, the black grouse breaks through its top layer, after which it creates a depression in it (sometimes the length of the stroke under the snow is more than ten meters). Black grouse get out from under the snow very noisy. This process is very short in time. On especially frosty days, the black grouse can spend several days without climbing out of the snow. It is easy to determine the places where blackcocks spend the night by holes in the snow and by droppings. As a rule, the distance between holes is two to three meters. It happens that a snow shelter is blocked by a hard crust. This is possible if frosts come after the thaw. As a result of this, the black grouse are unable to get out from under the snow and die. Flocks of these birds lead a similar roaming life until the end of winter. In February - March, the birds again move to the area of the current. Black grouse remain here throughout the breeding season.
In females and males of black grouse, molting does not occur simultaneously. Immediately after the end of the current, molt begins in adult mowers. Its duration is very long and can exceed two and a half months in time - while its end often falls on September or even October. As a rule, birds find relatively safe places for themselves during molting. Usually, they are played by dense thickets of bushes. First of all, in black grouse, a small feather sheds. Then it comes to the tail and flight feathers. At the same time, unmarried females begin to molt with males. Those females that have chicks molt together with their brood - in time this happens a month after the beginning of molting in males. Approximately in September, the molt of female black grouse is already complete.
Black grouse is a herbivorous bird. Food of animal origin has an insignificant place in the diet of black grouse. Animal food (these are beetles, ants, flies, spiders, caterpillars, mosquitoes, bugs, cicadas, etc.) are very necessary at an early age of these birds, and in the first week of black grouse life they play an exceptional role in nutrition. Spring and summer is the time when the diet of black grouse is most diverse, it is in the spring and summer period that the food supply of black grouses is abundant in flowers, leaves, and plant buds. In addition, the seeds of various shrub and herbaceous plants play an important role in nutrition. The species composition of the latter strongly depends on the specific habitat of black grouse. In winter, black grouse feed mainly on buds, as well as catkins and shoots of birch, aspen, willow, alder. Their diet also includes juniper berries. Small stones are almost always present in the stomachs of these birds. Their function is to facilitate the grinding of incoming food. These pebbles are especially important in early spring (before the currents start).
Black grouse is a hunting and game bird. This is facilitated by the wide distribution of black grouse and the high number of these birds. A variety of methods are used to catch black grouse. For example, in the autumn they hunt stuffed animals. In winter, these birds find refuge. In spring they hunt for lek, and in summer, broods of black grouse become prey for hunters. However, rifle hunting methods are not unique. Various traps are often used (and in the past this method dominated).