Capercaillie

Tetrao urogallus

Scotland’s largest and rarest grouse species; the male is larger and, at a distance is conspicuous as it appears black.

When seen more closely there are shades of dark blue on the throat and chest; green on the wings and brown on the back; the tail has white barring. He has conspicuous red wattle “eyebrows”. The hen is two-thirds the size of the cock and has a predominantly brown appearance, with white, black and brown barring.

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Discover more about the Capercaillie

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When to see

During the winter adults can be seen feeding on the needles of Scots pine trees. In spring, the males gather at traditional breeding sites (leks), where they display and sing. Hens are attracted from over a kilometre away by a booming ultrasound call that is below our hearing range. We just hear the drumming and popping call. Hens are ground nesting single parents, raising up to six chicks on a variety of plants found growing on the forest floor. Juveniles have reached adult size by the autumn and are sometimes seen in different habitats whilst dispersing.

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Where to see

Found in upland pine forest where there is a good understorey of blueberry, this species is very rare. DO NOT look for lek sites, they are all protected by law. It is essential to keep dogs on leads in this type of habitat in the spring and summer to avoid disturbing hens and their growing chicks.

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Did you know?

The capercaillie has declined to around 2000 birds. It is very sensitive to climate change and changes we have made in land use, including outdoor activities in forest areas, from mountain biking to cross-country skiing. It is an indicator species that tells us the health of the biodiversity within our upland forests in Scotland.

Binoculars Icon Blue
When to see

During the winter adults can be seen feeding on the needles of Scots pine trees. In spring, the males gather at traditional breeding sites (leks), where they display and sing. Hens are attracted from over a kilometre away by a booming ultrasound call that is below our hearing range. We just hear the drumming and popping call. Hens are ground nesting single parents, raising up to six chicks on a variety of plants found growing on the forest floor. Juveniles have reached adult size by the autumn and are sometimes seen in different habitats whilst dispersing.

Map Icon Blue
Where to see

Found in upland pine forest where there is a good understorey of blueberry, this species is very rare. DO NOT look for lek sites, they are all protected by law. It is essential to keep dogs on leads in this type of habitat in the spring and summer to avoid disturbing hens and their growing chicks.

Book Icon Blue
Did you know?

The capercaillie has declined to around 2000 birds. It is very sensitive to climate change and changes we have made in land use, including outdoor activities in forest areas, from mountain biking to cross-country skiing. It is an indicator species that tells us the health of the biodiversity within our upland forests in Scotland.

Binoculars Icon Blue
When to see

During the winter adults can be seen feeding on the needles of Scots pine trees. In spring, the males gather at traditional breeding sites (leks), where they display and sing. Hens are attracted from over a kilometre away by a booming ultrasound call that is below our hearing range. We just hear the drumming and popping call. Hens are ground nesting single parents, raising up to six chicks on a variety of plants found growing on the forest floor. Juveniles have reached adult size by the autumn and are sometimes seen in different habitats whilst dispersing.

Map Icon Blue
Where to see

Found in upland pine forest where there is a good understorey of blueberry, this species is very rare. DO NOT look for lek sites, they are all protected by law. It is essential to keep dogs on leads in this type of habitat in the spring and summer to avoid disturbing hens and their growing chicks.

Book Icon Blue
Did you know?

The capercaillie has declined to around 2000 birds. It is very sensitive to climate change and changes we have made in land use, including outdoor activities in forest areas, from mountain biking to cross-country skiing. It is an indicator species that tells us the health of the biodiversity within our upland forests in Scotland.