The black grouse or blackgame or blackcock (Lyrurus tetrix) is a large game bird in the grouse family. It is a sedentary species, breeding across the Palearctic in moorland and bog areas near to woodland, mostly boreal. The black grouse is closely related to the Caucasian grouse. The famale takes all responsibility for nesting and caring for the chicks, as is typical with gamebirds. The black grouse's genome was sequenced in 2014.
Description & appearanceThe black grouse is a large bird with males being around 53 centimetres (21 in) long and weighing 1,000–1,450 g (2.20–3.20 lb) and females approximately 40 cm (16 in) and weighing 750–1,110 g (1.65–2.45 lb). The cock is very distinctive, with black plumage, apart from red wattles and a white wingbar, and a lyre-shaped tail, which appears forked in flight. His song is loud, bubbling and somewhat dove-like.
Voice, singing & callThe female is greyish-brown and has a cackling call.
Distribution & habitatBlack grouse can be found across Europe (Swiss-Italian-French Alps specially) from Great Britain (but not Ireland) through Scandinavia, Estonia and across Russia. In Eastern Europe they can be found in Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, Romania and Ukraine. There is a population in the Alps, and isolated remnants in Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. It formerly occurred in Denmark, but the Danish Ornithological Society (DOF) has considered it extinct since 2001. The species disappeared from Bulgaria in the 19th century.
Breeding & matingBlack grouse have a very distinctive and well-recorded courtship ritual or game. At dawn in the spring, the males strut around in a traditional area and display whilst making a highly distinctive mating call. This process is called a lek—the grouse are said to be lekking. In western Europe these gatherings seldom involve more than 40 birds; in Russia 150 is not uncommon and 200 have been recorded