Many people have known the grouse bird from early childhood. This animal has repeatedly become the main character of fairy tales, narratives and children's stories. In many works, the authors show the black grouse as smart, quick-witted, but is he really like that? Black grouse is undoubtedly one of the most interesting representatives of the bird class. It's worth learning more about it.
Species origin and description
The black grouse is one of the most beloved birds among the people. He is valued for his tender childhood memories of numerous fairy tales, for his bright and memorable appearance, a special value among hunters. The black grouse is called differently: “kosach”, “ryabushka”, “chernysh”, “field black grouse”. In Latin, the name of the feathered one sounds like Lyrurus tetrix. Basically, the names came from two factors: a characteristic appearance and behavioral features.
Kosach belongs to the order of chickens, the pheasant family. This is a widespread bird that prefers to live in forest and forest-steppe zones. It is quite easy to recognize such an animal. The black grouse has a large build, a short neck and a small head. Some adults can grow more than one meter in length. Plumage depends on gender. Males are shiny black with a sheen and red eyebrows, females are reddish brown with stripes of three colors: gray, dark yellow, brown (closer to black).
Interesting fact: C In many languages, the name “grouse” is translated as “chicken”. And this is not at all surprising. The habits of this animal largely coincide with the habits of an ordinary domestic chicken.
There are different subspecies of black grouse.
To date, there is no exact data on their number, but most scientists distinguish seven:
- tetrix baikalensis;
- tetrix tetrix;
- tetrix tschusii;
- tetrix viridanus;
- tetrix mongolicus;
- tetrix britannicus;
- tetrix ussuriensis.
Subspecies have different regions of habitat, some external differences. When determining a subspecies, external features are taken into account more. So, the main criteria are recognized: the degree of distribution of white feathers among the flight and tail feathers, the size of the “mirror” on the wings of males, the nature of the pattern on the animal's throat.
Appearance and features
Black grouse can be called a fairly large representative of his family. The average length of the male is fifty-eight centimeters, the females – forty-five centimeters. However, this is far from a chapel. In nature, there were individuals much larger – more than one meter in length. Weight is also not small – about 1.4 kg. Recognizing the female and male is easy. Firstly, the male is always larger in size and weight, and secondly, the animals differ in feather color.
An interesting fact: Black grouse are in many ways similar to other representatives of chickens. However, there are also striking differences. So, in these birds, the metatarsus, nostrils are completely feathered, and in most subspecies the bases of the fingers are feathered.
The males of this species of birds have a brighter and more memorable appearance. They are easily recognizable by their black plumage with a green or purple tint. Also a distinctive feature of black grouse are bright red eyebrows, white undertail and brown belly. A characteristic feature of males is the presence of a “mirror” on the fly feathers. It is a white spot and occupies most of the wing.
Females do not differ in expressive appearance. The color of their feathers is reddish brown. The whole body has pronounced transverse stripes of brown, black or gray. Many people confuse female grouse with female capercaillie. However, the female black grouse has “mirrors” on the wings, a white undertail.
Male and female grouse have different voices. The voice of the female is similar to the voice of the most ordinary chicken. She makes sounds very similar to “ko-ko-ko”. Males, on the other hand, mutter for a longer time, differ in a loud, sonorous voice. In case of danger, males call “choo-ishsh”. However, it is not often possible to hear a black grouse. They are most “talkative” only during the mating season.
Where does the black grouse live?
Black grouse are very common birds. The largest number of such birds can be found in Europe and Asia. In these areas, the population is always unstable. This is due to changes in the landscape, the availability of suitable food. If in the north and south of Europe black grouse live in forest and forest-steppe zones, then in the west and in the center they prefer to settle in forests located in the mountains. Despite the high population, in some parts of Europe, black grouse have completely disappeared. This happened due to climate change and active human management.
In Asia, such birds can be found in some parts of North Korea, China, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan. This bird is very widespread in Russia. It can be found in almost every city, with rare exceptions. Also, individual populations of black grouse live in Ukraine, choosing places with thickets near swamps and large rivers. You cannot find such birds on Sakhalin, in the Crimea and Kamchatka.
Interesting fact: Black grouse is a sedentary bird. However, sometimes they carry out mass migrations. Large flocks of birds migrate at the same time, usually not very far from their original habitat. Such massive migrations are associated only with the lack of food.
When choosing a place to live, black grouse is guided by several factors: the availability of enough food, the right climate. They are ideally suited for temperate climates and areas where woodlands are located next to open spaces. Flocks of animals prefer to live in groves, woodlands, mountains, in the valleys of large rivers or close to agricultural land, where you can always find something to profit from. These birds avoid dark forests and look for places where birch trees grow in large numbers.
Now you know where the black grouse lives. Let's see what it eats.
What does a black grouse eat?
Most of the diet black grouse is plant food. The variety of the bird menu differs only in spring, summer, when there are a lot of fresh berries, fruits, plants on the street.
In the warm season, the diet includes:
- seeds of trees, herbs, plants;
- inflorescences, flowers and buds;
- leaves of some shrubs, herbaceous plants;
- fresh berries: cranberries, blueberries, blueberries, cranberries;
- grains of agricultural crops: wheat, millet.
Eating grains of wheat, millet, black grouse harm agricultural land, vegetable gardens. However, these animals cannot be called big pests. Grouse rarely eat grains, preferring berries, leaves, and other foods. In winter, the diet of these birds is more scarce. They do not fly to warm countries, so they are forced to look for food under a layer of snow, on trees. In winter, black grouse eat buds, shoots, catkins of trees. They love birch, willow, aspen, alder. Be sure to include juniper berries and pine cones in the diet.
Interesting fact: To improve the quality of their digestion, adults swallow small pebbles while eating. They help food to grind better in the stomach, facilitate the process of digestion.
The diet of black grouse offspring is significantly different. Small chicks in the first days of their life are in dire need of food rich in proteins. For this reason, animal food predominates in their daily diet. The chicks eat cicadas, bedbugs, spiders, mosquitoes, caterpillars and various other insects brought to them by their parents. Having matured, in black grouse, the need for animal food is gradually reduced and then completely disappears.
Character and lifestyle features
Black grouse can be safely called sedentary birds. They live in the same territory, choosing regions with a temperate climate. However, among these birds, it is rare, but there are moments of mass migrations. They are not regular. It's more of a forced migration. The main reason for such migrations is the lack of food.
In lean years or when the climate changes, birds simply do not have enough food. Then they move in whole flocks to another place where there is no such shortage. Quite rarely, fluctuations in the number of animals are the cause of mass migrations. The population of such birds sometimes increases dramatically. This usually happens once every five to ten years.
Interesting fact: Grouse are very interesting to escape the cold in the winter season. These are the only birds that use snow “chambers” for warmth. They dig small holes for themselves, where they hide during cold weather and snowfalls. Birds go outside only to search for food.
Black grouse live in thickets, forests, mountains, not far from a water source. They live in packs. With a large number of birds, their place of settlement is easy to find by loud muttering. Black grouse often make sounds, especially during the mating season. Only males mutter loudly, and females only occasionally support the song. The lifestyle of these birds is predominantly terrestrial. Birds climb trees only to search for food: berries, leaves, buds, cones. Black grouse spend the night only on the ground.
An interesting fact: Black grouse, despite their large build and great resemblance to domestic chickens, are excellent “flyers”. These birds easily rise into the air from any surface. However, black grouse take off very noisily from the ground, and almost imperceptibly from trees.
Social Structure and Reproduction
The beginning of the mating season for black grouse is hard to miss. They change dramatically in their behavior with the onset of the first warm weather. In the spring, black grouse lead an active lifestyle, often and loudly sing. This period is called the beginning of the current. It usually comes in March. It is impossible to give an exact number, because different regions of black grouse habitat have their own climatic and geographical features.
The process of reproduction of these animals can be presented in stages:
- active current. With the advent of spring, black grouse males gather in large numbers on the edges of the forest, where they actively communicate with each other. Up to fifteen individuals can gather in one place. Active towing lasts about two weeks. In this case, the males may have skirmishes and even fights among themselves;
- fertilization of the female. After the males, the females also arrive at the mating place. There they can choose a partner for themselves. Then the birds mate, and the males leave the females, because they are no longer needed;
- Nest equipment. The females build their nests on the ground, not far from the breeding grounds. The nest of black grouse is a small hole where females lay various twigs, grass, leaves, feathers. Usually the nest is built in thickets of grass, nettles;
- laying and incubation of eggs. Eggs are laid by females in the month of May. Grouse are quite prolific. At one time, the female can lay up to thirteen eggs. The eggs are light ocher in color with spots. the female incubates the eggs for about twenty-five days;
- caring for the chicks. The female also takes care of the offspring on her own. The chicks are under the supervision of the mother for about ten days. She protects her offspring from predators and other dangers. Chicks prefer to eat animal food: various larvae, small insects, caterpillars.
Natural enemies of black grouse
The most dangerous period in the life of black grouse is the first ten days after birth. It is during this period that chicks often become prey to predators. They are attacked by foxes, wild boars, martens. These predators can eat not only chicks, but also adults. Foxes are especially dangerous for adult black grouse. These animals can find birds even under the snow thanks to their keen sense of smell.
You can also call many representatives of the weasel family enemies. An ardent hunter of black grouse are sables. They attack both adults and juveniles. Large birds of prey are also not averse to eating black grouse. The goshawks are the most dangerous for them. This predator hunts black grouse throughout the year.
Despite the presence of a large number of predators that attack black grouse, they do not have a significant impact on their population. To a greater extent, people themselves influence the reduction in the number of animals. Man is a dangerous natural enemy for black grouse. Uncontrolled economic activity, deforestation, hunting – all this leads to a decrease in the total number of birds. In some countries, such factors have even led to the disappearance of birds from their natural habitat.
Population and species status
The black grouse population is negatively affected various factors:
- active farming;
- uncontrolled hunting;
- bad weather conditions in the winter season.
Despite this, the black grouse population is currently quite large. They are prolific and widely distributed in their natural habitat. This is what allows these birds to maintain optimal numbers and a stable population as a whole. At the moment, black grouse has been assigned the status: “Causing the least concern.” This means that the animals are not threatened with extinction in the coming years.
With a generally favorable environment, some species of these birds are in danger. In particular, we are talking about the Caucasian black grouse. His position is close to vulnerable. The number of this species is extremely negatively affected by two factors: livestock grazing, uncontrolled poaching activities. A huge number of Caucasian black grouse die at the hands of poachers and the paws of dogs that help graze cattle. This situation forced to apply some measures to protect this animal. Today, Caucasian black grouse are protected on the territory of many large nature reserves.
Teterev is a rather large representative of the chicken family, the most valuable prey for hunters, a favorite hero from children's fairy tales. These birds have a bright, beautiful appearance, fly well, have a very interesting lifestyle, a large population in the natural habitat. However, due to the impact of negative factors, the number of individual species of black grouse begins to gradually decline. It is for this reason that these animals need close attention from people.