Capercaillie

Capercaillie

Scientific name: Tetrao urogallus

Did you know: The capercaillie is renowned for its courtship display, where males perform an elaborate dance to attract mates!

What Do Capercaillies Look Like? (how to identify them)

Capercaillies are the largest members of the grouse family, with a significant presence in woodland habitats. 

The males, known for their sizable, glossy black bodies with a green sheen on their chests and striking red eye markings, are unmistakably majestic. 

Females are smaller, with mottled brown feathers and an orange-brown throat.

Differences Between Male And Female Capercaillie

There’s a striking difference between the sexes.

Males are about twice the size of their female counterparts, weighing around 4kg, while females weigh approximately 2kg. 

Males display glossy black feathers and red eye markings, whereas females exhibit a brown and mottled appearance with an orange-brown throat.

What Do Capercaillies Eat?

Capercaillies have a diet that mainly consists of shoots, buds, and berries of pines and bilberry, supplemented by grasses. This varied diet plays a critical role in their habitat preferences and survival.

Where Do Capercaillies Live? (inc. migration info)

These impressive birds are primarily found in the native pinewoods of northern Scotland. They prefer mature conifer forests with an open canopy and are non-migratory, residing year-round in their chosen habitats.

Bird Calls & Songs (the unique voices of Capercaillie)

Capercaillies are known for their distinctive sounds, especially during the mating season. The males produce a range of noises, including a gulping, clicking, and whistling chorus that forms an integral part of their breeding ritual.

Fun Capercaillie Facts (kid friendly)

  • Capercaillies are the largest grouse species.
  • Males perform a special dance to attract females.
  • Their diet includes pine buds, shoots, and berries.
  • They mainly live in Scotland’s pine forests.
  • Males have glossy black feathers with a green shine.
  • Listen for their unusual whistling and clicking calls.
  • Females lay 5-11 eggs and care for their chicks until September.
  • They spend a lot of their time on land, but can also be perched in trees.
  • Capercaillies are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
  • They can travel significant distances to find food in winter.

Capercaillie Video

Facts About The Capercaillie

Diet: Berries, shoots and stems.
Bird Family: Grouse
Length: 60-87cm
Wingspan: 87-125cm
Weight: 3,500-5,000g (male); 1,500-2,500g (female)
Scientific Name: Tetrao urogallus

The Capercaillie Can Be Seen In The UK During The Following Months

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

Capercaillie Images

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Male
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Female
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Hatchling
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Nestling
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Chick
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Fledgling
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Juvenile