Capercaillie are hugely charismatic birds and the world’s largest grouse. In spring they gather at communal display grounds known as leks, where males strut their stuff uttering a bizarre whispering, clicking and popping ‘song’. Hunted to extinction in the past, they were reintroduced in 1876, however, the population has plummeted again. The last survey estimated there were only around 1,100 individuals left.
The reasons for capercaillie decline are many and complicated, but disturbance from humans and predation are a key issue. Colder and wetter summers due to climate change also mean a higher number of chicks dying. In some years very few chicks make it to adulthood.
We've been working hard to save capercaillie over the last two decades. We can help by monitoring their population, carrying out research and managing habitat both on our reserves and advising others elsewhere. Whilst the population has remained at very low levels, without our efforts, the species might well have been extinct already.