15 1/2-21" (39-53 cm). Males sooty-gray and females brown- gray. Mottled above, solid below and whitish flanks; dark tail with pale gray terminal band (absent in birds north of the Rockies). Males have a yellow-orange comb over black eyes.
Similar Species- Female Sage Grouse, Spruce Grouse, Ruffed Grouse
Deep hoot that almost sounds like water dripping: Whoop-whoop-whoop- whoop. Can almost feel it more than hear it.
From southeastern Alaska, south through western Canada to eastern Washington, and south from there through Rocky Mountains to eastern Nevada, northern and eastern Arizona, southwestern and north-central New Mexico, and eastern Colorado. Also present from western Washington south in coastal ranges and Cascades through Sierra Nevada to southern California and extreme western Nevada.
Found in coniferous forests (especially fir), mostly in open situations with mixture of deciduous trees and shrubs. Spends winter (usually at elevations higher than that of summer habitat) in open coniferous forests of various categories of age and tree density. Idaho study found spring and summer habitat to be low-elevation bigtooth maple, mountain mahogany, and mixed shrub stands with open understory and overstory.
In summer, feeds on variety of berries, insects, flowers, and leaves. In winter, feeds mainly on needles and buds of conifers (Douglas-fir is often important). Also eats waste grain.
Primarily a solitary, montane species. Nests in depression on ground, frequently near shrub or fallen tree. Forages on ground or takes food from foliage. roosts in large conifers with dense foliage. Courting males establish territories.
Breeding begins mid- April in southern range, to late May in north. Female incubates 7-10 eggs (sometimes up to 16), for 26 days, and may renest if nest is destroyed. Nestlings are precocial and downy. Young are tended by female. yearling males often do not breed.
Stauffer, D.F. and S.R. Peterson. 1985. Ruffed and blue grouse habitat use in southeastern Idaho. J. Wildl. Manage. 49:459-466.