RSPB
Skip navigation
Print page

Grouse

Red grouse walking in Cairngorm National Park, Highlands, Scotland

Image: Tom Marshall

Medium to large-sized ‘gamebirds’, grouse are somewhat partridge-like, with rounded bodies, short, broad wings and small heads with stout, arched bills. They feed on shoots, buds and seeds of small shrubs and herbs. 

Red grouse are especially associated with heather; black grouse prefer a mixture of heather, rushy areas, rough grass and woodland edge, while capercaillies survive best where pine woodland intermingles with boggy heath and plentiful supplies of bilberry, cranberry and crowberry. 

There are several other non-UK species in North America, Europe and Asia.

Black grouse

The all-black males have distinctive red wattle over the eye and show a striking white stripe along each wing in flight. They have a lyre-shaped tail which is fanned out and raised to show white unde... More...

Black grouse

Capercaillie

A huge woodland grouse, the large black males are unmistakable. They spend a lot of time feeding on the ground, but may also be found in trees, feeding on shoots. localised breeding species, found in... More...

Capercaillie

Ptarmigan

The ptarmigan is a plump gamebird, slightly larger than a grey partridge. In summer, is a mixture of grey, brown and black above with white bellies and wings. In winter, it becomes totally white excep... More...

Ptarmigan

Red grouse

The red grouse is a medium-sized game bird. It has a plump body, a short tail and a lightly hook-tipped bill. It is reddish-brown, with its legs and feet covered in pale feathers. Birds breed in the U... More...

Red grouse