COMMON GROUSE

This is a big bird (male species weigh up to 6.5 kilos, more often – 4-4.5 kilos). The females are much smaller (up to 3 kilos). The color of a male is greyish-brown, the beak is whitish. A female is of brown-ginger color with black pattern; sometimes it is grey. The flight is rapid with frequent glides. The flying-off is rather loud. The bird walks well on ground and snow.

The mating call consists of chatter which then turns into a warble and then to a rasping sound during which the male cannot hear anything. The grouse sings its “song” sitting on a tree or on the ground (snow) and opening its tail like a fan, spreading its wings and stretching its neck. In other periods (not the mating time) it is a very silent bird.
It inhabits mountain taiga of the southern Krasnoyarsk Territory including Sayan Mountains and Kuznetsky Alatau. The bird is generally non-migratory but it can migrate 100-150 kilometers (and sometimes more) in the northern taiga. The favorite habitats are pine forests. Considerable number of the grouse populates larch and cedar taiga. The mating ceremony starts with “drawing” when the grouses “draw” patterns on the spring snow with its spread wings. The culmination of the mating in the central taiga is in late April through the middle of May. The mating ends in late May and beginning of June.

The nest is a small hole in moss, usually not further than 1 kilometer from the lekking ground (often – at its borders). The laying of eggs takes place in May. There are 5-9 big (size of a chicken egg) yellowish-white eggs with red-brown spots. The female grouse “leads” vultures away from the nest and the nestlings. The brood appears in third decade of June. The young grouses fledge in a month’s age. Starting from the middle of September the fledglings begin to fly to the “sands” (river shoals and ravines where the birds eat pebble for the purpose of normal digestion of coarse food that grouses eat during winter) and to the autumn yellowing larch-trees which needles is the favorite grouses’ autumn food. The birds live directly on trees during warm weather; in winter they hide in the snow where they become vulnerable to the sable and the marten. The basis of winter nutrition is cedar and pine needles.