Fun Blue Grouse Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
May 10, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Chandan Shukla
Blue Grouse facts are interesting to read.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 9.9 Min

Do you like reading about various game birds? Then you would enjoy reading about the blue grouse. Blue grouse is a kind of stocky game bird similar to chickens, turkeys, and pheasants. There are two separate species of blue grouse namely the dusky grouse (Dendragapus obscurus) and the sooty grouse (Dendragapus fuliginosus). Until 2006, they were considered a single species, the blue grouse, but due to their genetic differences, they were split in two. They prefer their habitat to be in forests, highlands, and scrublands. Their distribution range is from the Northwest Territories of northern Canada to northern New Mexico in the United States. They are known for their unique hooting for communication. Their diet is omnivorous but strictly plant-based during the winter. Hunting blue grouse is still a sport in parts of North America. This is the third-largest grouse species on the continent. These animals are often hunted for their meat. The proportion of white and dark meat is similar to that of a chicken. The breast of a grouse is more tender and mildly gamey in taste. The legs and the rest of the body have a more pronounced game taste.  To learn more, keep on reading.

If you like reading about various bird species, then check out the golden pheasant and the greater sage-grouse.

Blue Grouse Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a blue grouse?

The blue grouse is a medium-sized, stocky bird closely related to chickens, turkeys, and pheasants.

What class of animal does a blue grouse belong to?

The blue grouse belongs to the class of Aves within the Animalia kingdom.

How many blue grouses are there in the world?

The dusky grouse and the sooty grouse were considered a single species, the blue grouse, previously. They have been split up and the dusky grouse is mostly referred to as the blue grouse now. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the population of the dusky grouse (Dendragapus obscurus) is decreasing and the current number of mature individuals is 3,000,000. In the case of sooty grouse (Dendragapus fuliginosus), the population is decreasing as well, but their exact population is unknown.

Where does a blue grouse live?

The blue grouse is a game species and is found in the Northern Hemisphere in Asia, Europe, and North America. The dusky grouse and sooty grouse species are native to North America before they spread to other continents. Their territory ranges from the Northwest territories of northern Canada to northern New Mexico in the USA. The Dusky Grouse is spotted in the Rocky Mountains whereas the Sooty Grouse are found in America's Pacific Coast range. They are often also spotted in places like South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, and more.

What is a blue grouse's habitat?

The blue grouse is capable of living in a wide variety of environments ranging from mountains to bushy scrublands to rainforests. They prefer using different areas for different purposes and like to migrate between them. The blue grouse habitat in the summer is the sub-alpine meadows or the low-lying areas rich in aspen that also help them hunt more insects like grasshoppers. During winter, unlike most animals who descend to lower elevations, the blue grouse are found near the tree line at high elevations in mixed forests and feed on conifer needles which is a very good source of food in the harsh winter months. Staying at a high elevation during winter also helps them stay away from predators.

Who do blue grouses live with?

The blue grouse bird lives in flocks. Their flock size depends on the season. The flocks are small comprising of a female with up to seven of its chicks. In winter the flocks comprise 15-20 birds. They do so when food is scarce so they flock together to be more efficient in finding food. Living in large flocks during the winter also helps them stay warm in the low temperatures of the Rocky Mountains.

How long does a blue grouse live?

The lifespan range of the blue grouse in the wild is quite wide-ranging, from one to 14 years. 50% of the blue grouse population is lost in their first year due to predation, hunting, or simply a lack of enough food. However, in places with enough food resources for the blue grouse, they have been seen living for up to 14 years.

How do they reproduce?

The blue grouse mate up to four times a year once they reach their sexual maturity after one year. Their breeding season usually begins in late March and lasts until mid-July. The breeding season is marked by the hooting or the mating calls that the males give out to attract a female who is ready to mate. The male blue grouse, in general, claims a territory and defends it by fanning out their tail feathers and hopping and clapping their wings.

Once the breeding process is over, the female builds the nest hidden in a downed tree or a thick bush where it lays about seven to nine eggs. The eggs go through an incubation period of about 18-21 days after which the chicks start to hatch around late May. In lots of cases, if a female loses her clutch in early summer, she will often mate again with another willing male.

What is their conservation status?

The blue grouse has been listed as of Least Concern on the International Union For Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species for both the dusky grouse and the sooty grouse. Blue grouse are referred to as the dusky grouse and the sooty grouse together when they were not considered as two separate species. However, their populations are declining due to overhunting and loss of habitat.

Blue Grouse Fun Facts

What do Blue grouses look like?

A young grouse.

Please note this image is not of a blue grouse. If you are able to provide us with a royalty-free image of a blue grouse, we would be happy to credit you. Please contact us at

The blue grouse has two species, namely, the dusky grouse and the sooty grouse. They look similar and are closely related. In both species, the males are larger and more colorful. Adult males have a dark brown body with a purplish or yellow throat sac surrounded by white feathers and a beautiful yellow or red wattle over their eyes. The males also have beautiful tail feathers that are long and squared with gray at the end.  Adult females of both are mottled brown with white and dark brown spots underneath. The blue grouse is a species of medium-sized bird. Their lengths vary between 11.8-14.9 in (30-38 cm) on average and they weigh about 2-3 lb (0.9-1.3 kg).

How cute are they?

The blue grouse can be considered a majestic or beautiful bird due to its beautiful coloration of feathers all over its body, but it is not a cute animal. The blue grouse isn't an aggressive species but they tend to get territorial during mating season. During the breeding season, there are short fights or circular fights between males for a female and the territory.  

How do they communicate?

The blue grouse, like all grouses, communicate through a series of chirps and peeps with each other. Their sounds are quite subtle to the human ear and almost impossible to distinguish from other birds. Throughout the year they use this to alert one another to nearby predators, especially among mothers and their chicks. During the breeding season, adult males will give out loud hoots that can be heard over a mile away to attract potential females to mate. The males also jump, clap their wings, and produce loud thumps to communicate with other competing males to defend their territory. Females also give out loud hoots sometimes but not for mating purposes. The mother blue grouse calls out to the young ones through a series of deep clucks to guide them back to her when separated.

How big is a blue grouse?

The blue grouse, that is, the dusky grouse and the sooty grouse, is the second-largest grouse species in North America and is about twice as big as the spruce grouse. The blue grouse has an average length of 11.8-14.9 in (30-38 cm) with a wingspan of 24-27.9 in (61-71 cm).

How fast can a blue grouse fly?

Grouse, in general, like chickens, are ground-dwelling birds. They can fly very short distances and at a very low altitude. The blue grouse are also ground-dwelling birds as well. They prefer to even run away from predators rather than flying and use flying only as a last resort. They can't fly too fast, nor is their exact flying speed known.

How much does a blue grouse weigh?

Both blue grouse species are closely related and have similar characteristics as well. The average weight of an adult blue grouse is somewhere around 2-3 lb (0.9-1.3 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Like all grouse, the female blue grouse is called a hen and the male blue grouse is called a cock.

What would you call a baby Blue grouse?

The baby name for the two separate species of blue grouse is the same, that is, chick.

What do they eat?

A blue grouse's diet depends on the time of the year and its corresponding habitat. These birds are omnivorous and so consume a wide range of food from small insects to plant seeds to conifer needles. During winter these birds, instead of descending to lower elevations, stay high within the tree lines and feed on spruce, Douglas fir, and other conifer trees and their needles and cones. The seeds found in whitebark pinecones are their favorite at this time of the year. During summers, they also feed on a variety of small insects, like grasshoppers, and a variety of berries like chokecherries, huckleberries, gooseberries, blueberries, and more.

Are they aggressive?

Yes, they can be aggressive in two instances. One is during the breeding season and the other is when they feel threatened. Otherwise, they are not aggressive birds. During the mating season, small and circular fights among adult males are quite common. The males fight each other for territory and to mate with their choice of female. Females are only aggressive to protect their nest, their eggs, and their chicks.

Would they make a good pet?

No, they would not make good pets. Blue grouse are wild birds and don't do well in captivity as they are fearful and flighty. Blue grouse are also quite expensive to get hold of and take care of, as well as this, it is also illegal to own them in some places.

Did you know...

Most grouse have a consistent number of tail feathers which is around 10, but in the case of dusky grouse, their tail feathers can range anywhere between 15-22.

You can eat a blue grouse right after hunting it without hanging the meat because of the gamey flavor. Hanging the meat increases the flavors of the meat. You can cook it by rinsing and patting it dry, then stuffing it, and after that, roasting it. Blue grouse with roasted apples and pears is quite a delicacy.

In many parts of the United States, blue Grouse hunting is still practiced, mostly in Colorado. Some prime locations of blue grouse in Colorado where you can easily find them are Cold Springs Mountain, Blue Mountain, valleys around Steamboat Springs, Douglas Mountain, Eagle-Vail, Grand Mesa, Elkhead Mountains, and Poncha Pass.

What sound does a blue grouse make?

The blue grouse is a very communicative species. They give out calls of various pitches to communicate accordingly. Normally, they communicate through a series of subtle chirps or clucks. The adult blue grouse makes a loud hooting sound to attract females to mate with. They also make a clapping sound with their wings to intimidate other adult males. The females give out an aggressive loud hiss or chicken-like cluck when threatened. They also give out a loud 'skree' when separated from their young.

How many species of grouse are there?

In North America, there are six kinds of grouse species currently found. The greater sage grouse, dusky grouse, sooty grouse, ruffled grouse, spruce grouse, sharp-tailed grouse, Franklin's grouse, and Gunnison sage grouse are the names of the species of grouse found in North America.

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 Radjah shelduck and the American wigeon.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing on the blue Grouse coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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