Fun Spruce Grouse Facts For Kids

Christian Mba
May 16, 2023 By Christian Mba
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Spruce Grouse (Falcipennis canadensis) facts about a bird belonging to the family of Phasianidae.

Spruce Grouses are chicken-like birds that belong to the order Galliformes, family Phasianidae. These birds are related to the taiga or boreal forests of North America.

At the beginning of the 20th century, they were identified as two distinct species in the genus Canachites, and they are Spruce Grouse and Franklin's Grouse. Birdlife International, in 2014, reinstated its place. The American Ornithological Society, the Clements Taxonomy, and the International Ornithological Congress in early 2021 restated Franklin's Grouse as subspecies.

Later these birds were assigned to the genus Dendragapus as they share a similar type of coniferous habitat to Blue Grouse. These two species have different plumages, and Blue Grouses have inflatable cervical sacs which are not in Spruce Grouses.

Finally, the Spruce Grouse was moved to the genus Falcipennis as this bird shares more similarities with the Siberian Grouse.

To know more about other wild birds, read our articles on the Golden pheasant and Greater sage grouse.

Spruce Grouse Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a spruce grouse?

A Spruce Grouse is a medium-sized bird related to the North American coniferous forests.

What class of animal does a spruce grouse belong to?

Spruce Grouses belong to the class of Aves.

How many spruce grouses are there in the world?

As per Partners in Flight, the population has doubled since 1970. The estimated population all around the world is 11 million.

Where does a spruce grouse live?

These birds live in coniferous boreal forests of North America. Their population is widespread in Canada. In the United States, they live in Alaska, northern Michigan, northeastern Minnesota, the Adirondacks, Montana, northern England, northern Wisconsin, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and Maine.

What is a spruce grouse's habitat?

A Spruce Grouse habitat is related to jack pine, fir, and spruce trees of coniferous boreal forests. Their habitat is in blueberry shrubs and denser stands of other shrubs during summer.

Who do spruce grouses live with?

Some Spruce Grouses can form flocks during the fall, but by spring, they become solitary. Some live a solitary life in their territory throughout the year. Spruce Grouse's range of territory is 10-15 acres, but they do not hold on to that place and are nomadic.

How long does a spruce grouse live?

The life expectancy of these birds in the wild is nearly five to six years. Some scientific studies found that they can live up to 13 years.

How do they reproduce?

The breeding season of these birds in North America is between May and June. Females attain sexual maturity when they are one year old.

But half of the males take two years to build a territory. The male Spruce Grouse is promiscuous and mates with many females. The males try to attract the female by advertising themselves by performing aerial displays.

Males provide little help by staying with young birds and keeping the brood together. Under a bush or a low-lying branch is the perfect place to form a nest where they dig a small depression.

A female creates a nest away from other females' nests or a male territorial range. Their nest is made of leaves and grass.

They lay a maximum of 10 eggs, but the regular number of eggs is four to eight. The incubation lasts for 24 days. The chicks are precocial, which means they walk as soon as they are eight hours old.

The Spruce Grouse hen stays with the chicks and guards them all night and often during the day until they are three to five weeks old. The young leave the group after 70-100 days.

What is their conservation status?

As per the IUCN, the conservation status is Least Concern, but many northern states consider it a protected species. Spruce Grouse hunting is legal in some states and considers this bird a game bird.

Spruce grouse Fun Facts

What do spruce grouses look like?

The Spruce Grouse is a medium-sized bird like a chicken with a small bill, a medium-sized tail that opens like a fan, and short thick legs. The plumage is different in different species, especially the tail pattern.

The adult male is gray on the top and black on the underside with white spots all along the side. Over the eye, we can see a red patch of bare skin called the eyebrow comb.

The adult Spruce Grouse female has feathers in shades of brown and gray with white and dark bars on the underside. Young birds look like females.

A spruce grouse on a tree branch.

How cute are they?

These birds are cute, with dark and light colors all over them. The males are handsome with their red eyebrow comb. Spruce Grouse tail feathers can be fanned beautifully into a semicircle.

How do they communicate?

Of all the species of grouse birds, it is very silent.

But a Spruce Grouse call to warn of predators, to prevent territorial encroachers, to keep up brood unity, and to draw out of brooding is loud. Franklin, the subspecies of these birds, particularly males, are known for their wing clapping show.

Every time they fly to the trees, they make two clap sounds by bringing both wings back, which is audible to humans who are at a distance of 150 m. They also make other sounds like soft drumming by flapping their wings and tail swish sounds with tail feathers when in flight.

How big is a spruce grouse?

Spruce Grouses are nearly 15-17 in  (38 43 cm) long. These birds are smaller than a Dusky Grouse and larger than a California Quail.

How fast can a spruce grouse fly?

The Spruce Grouses either walk on the ground or the tree branches rather than flying. Usually, they fly over short distances, maybe from ground to tree or tree to ground. Their flying speed is not noted, but they can say that their flights are rapid.

How much does a spruce grouse weigh?

The weight of an adult male bird is 19-23 oz (550-650 g), while that of a female is 16-19 oz (450-550 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

The male and female species of these birds do not have any specific names.

What would you call a baby spruce grouse?

A Spruce Grouse baby is called a chick.

What do they eat?

These North American birds' primary diet consists of coniferous needles during winter. They prefer the mid-crown part of trees, and the needles they eat are directly clipped from trees. The different conifer trees that they feed on are pine, fir, lodgepole pine, white spruce, black spruce, and larch.

The conifer needles are rich in calcium, and during spring, the females increase their consumption of these needles, which may be related to egg-laying. In summer, they move on the ground and eat insects.

They also eat berries, blueberry leaves, and fungi. Like any other bird, they also eat small stones, grit, and clay to help digestion. Young birds feed on small insects and later shift to berries and fungi.

Are they aggressive?

They are not aggressive towards humans. But males are aggressive while protecting their territories and fight with other males who enter their territories, resulting in just feather loss. The females are quiet and gentle birds except when alarmed. The females can be intolerant and aggressive during the breeding season.

Would they make a good pet?

A Spruce Grouse can be made a good pet only when kept in captivity that reflects its natural habitat in wildlife. They can be grown in artificial conditions, but they would not be complete without those coniferous forests of pine and spruce.

Did you know...

A group of Spruce Grouse is called a Spruce Grouse flock.

In terms of the Spruce Grouse vs Ruffed Grouse debate, male Spruces are different from Ruffed Grouse. Female Spruce Grouse identification can be tricky as they share a resemblance with the Ruffed Grouse, except for the tail, which is dark with pale color at the ends, which is in reverse with the Ruffed Grouse.

When alarmed, a Ruffed Grouse erects its crown feathers which does not happen with Spruce Grouse. Spruce Grouse meat is defamed and it has a terrible taste.

It does not taste like a Ruffed Grouse which tastes more like chicken. It has a gamey taste like any other wild bird or animal.

What do spruce grouses eat in the winter?

Spruce Grouses' diet consists of conifer needles directly clipped from boreal trees like pine, fir, spruce, and lodgepole pine in the winter. When needles are rich in calcium and are their primary diet during the winter, digestion can be an issue.

But in these species, digestion is supported by the increased caeca and gizzard. They have a well-formed crop in which up to 45 cc of needles can be stored and can be digested during the night fast.

They also grow small extensions called 'snow shoes' on their legs to support them in walking on the snow and also to get a grip on tree branches.

During winter, they take advantage of the insulating capacity of snow and make deep burrows under the snow. They can spend nearly 22 hours a day in their winter habitat.

Why do spruce grouses have the name 'fool hens'?

When humans or other predators approach, it depends on camouflage and stays still to a great extent to defend itself.

Without moving, it can let people come to it as near as a few feet distance and then try to escape by flying. Due to this behavior of Spruce Grouse, they earned the name 'fool hen'.

The other reason for the nickname 'fool hen' is that whenever they are captured by humans and are released, they run only to a certain distance from their capturer and search for food instead of escaping from them.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including the bohemian waxwing or American wigeon.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our spruce grouse coloring pages.

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Written by Christian Mba

Bachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

Christian Mba picture

Christian MbaBachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

Christian Mba is an experienced blogger and content writer with over a decade of experience. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Nigeria and has a keen interest in Python programming. Along with his writing and blogging expertise, he is also an SEO specialist with more than six years of experience. Chris, as he is commonly known, has a passion for music and enjoys playing the piano.

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