Black Grouse

Tetrao tetrix

  1. Wildlife
  2. Birds
  3. Gamebirds
  4. Black Grouse


The black grouse is a large gamebird about the same size as a female pheasant. Males have a lyre-shaped tail which they raise and fan out in display. These displays are known as 'leks' and males will gather at traditional sites and display to gain dominance and win over females which watch from the surrounding vegetation. Between six and eleven eggs are laid in May in a concealed, moss-lined scrape in the ground; the chicks are independent after about three months.

How to identify

Males are unmistakeable black birds with a fan tail and white wing-bars. Females are smaller, grey-brown with an intricate pattern of black barring, and they have notched tails.

Where to find it

Found on uplands in the north of England, North Wales and Scotland.


When to find it

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

How can people help

Black grouse populations have suffered severe declines due to the loss of their natural, heathland habitats: over the last 50 years up to 40% of heather moorland has been lost to commercial forestry and overgrazing. The Wildlife Trusts are working to restore and protect our heaths by promoting good management, clearing encroaching scrub and implementing beneficial grazing regimes. This work is vital if our heathland habitats are to survive; you can help by supporting your local Wildlife Trust and becoming a member or volunteer.

Species information

Common name
Black Grouse
Latin name
Tetrao tetrix
Length: 40-56cm Wingspan:72cm Weight: 900-1,200g Average Lifespan: 5 years
Conservation status
Classified in the UK as a Red List species under the Birds of Conservation Concern review and as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.