Black Grouse is a sedentary species which performs spectacular displays at lek.
Adult male has glossy black plumage with blue or green reflections. On the wings, we can see white carpal patch and conspicuous white wing bar. The undertail coverts used in displays are pure white.
Tail presents lyre-shaped rectrices. The outer tail feathers are longer than central feathers and curved outwards.
On the glossy black head, we can see bright red wattle above each eye.
The eyes are brown. The slightly down-curved bill is black.
Legs and feet are dark brown.
Female is smaller than male. She has brown cryptic plumage, heavily barred with black. We can see a narrow white wing bar. The tail is short and appears slightly forked when closed.
Length: 60 cm
Wingspan: M : 60 cm – F : 45 cm
Weight: M : 1100-1250 g – F : 750-1100 g
Black Grouse feeds on plant-food, mainly in winter. During spring, it prefers berries, stems and shoot of several kinds of plants. Food depends of weather conditions.
During breeding season, males perform courtship displays at leks or arenas. They gather to display at favoured sites at dawn. Such groups may gather up to 40 birds, but sometimes much more.
They perform this ritual almost all year round, except in late summer and in autumn, during the moulting period.
Leks or arenas are situated in clearings in the woods or at the edges of the forests. Males display to attract a female. Short time after arriving at the lek, males utter the typical “rookooing” call, while they cock and spread the tail in order to expose the white undertail coverts.
Black Grouse often frequents the places between woodlands and open areas, such as steppes, marshes, heaths and cultivated areas at the edges.
But the habitat is very variable and we can found this species in lowlands and mountains up to 2000-3000 metres of elevation, mainly in coniferous forests but also in mixed woodlands. Usually, the breeding range includes a high variety of plants.
Calls and songs:
Black grouse is rather silent outside the lek. But during the displays, we can hear long, low bubbling croons, far-carrying sounds (until 3-4 km), given by displaying males. These croons are interspersed with harsh sneezed hiss “chooEESH”.
Methods of hunting permitted for use:
- hunting during spawning period (in spring),
- ambush hunting,
- using duck calls,
- using hunting birds,
- using stuffed animals and profiles,
- using hunting dogs
Permitted hunting tools:
Hunting fire smooth-bore long-barreled arms; cold bladed hunting weapon
Hunting for a male black groose during spring season – hunting fire smooth-bore long-barreled arms; hunting firearm with a rifled barrel of caliber no more than 6.5 mm (except for a caliber of 5.6 mm for a rim-fire cartridge); hunting firearm combined weapons (smooth-bore and rifted gun), including with rebarreling and auxiliary rifled barrels of no more than 6.5 mm caliber (except for 5.6 mm caliber for rim-fire cartridge); cold bladed hunting weapon.
Cut the shot out of the flesh before serving, as well as any feathers that may have been driven into the meat along with the shot. Take care to remove shot from bones, too, as any shot or heavily bloody areas will tarnish the flavour of bones used for stocks and sauces. Before cooking, it is wise to truss the birds so that they hold their shape and cook evenly – you can ask your butcher to do this for you.
Roasting grouse on the crown is the best way of protecting the delicate meat during the cooking process. Brown the skin in a pan before transferring to the oven for 10-12 minutes. Grouse is a lean bird, so needs to be cooked carefully to prevent it from drying out. It should be served pink, as this ensures that the moisture is retained in the flesh. If you have a whole grouse, don’t discard the heart and liver as these can be pan-fried and eaten, too, perhaps on a slice of good sourdough toast.
Being slightly tougher, older grouse benefit from slow cooking. Make sure you braise the bird, or pot-roast, ideally in a mix of stock and good quality red wine. Cook for around 45 minutes and always allow the bird to cool in the stock to help lock in moisture – you can keep the birds whole, or joint them.
As with pigeon, quail or duck, grouse legs can be removed and confited in fat, gleaning tender, melt-in-the-mouth results.