Grouse are chicken-like birds that primarily forage and live on the ground. Both species are found in the park year-round.


Grouse - Order Galliformes, Family Phasianidae

A male displaying grouse (top) and a brown speckled female grouse (bottom)
A displaying male Sooty Grouse (top), and female Sooty Grouse (bottom)

Top: NPS/C. Roundtree; Bottom: NPS/S. Redman

Sooty Grouse
Dendragapus fuliginosus

Habitat: subalpine
Seasons: common year-round
Size: length 20 in (50.8 cm), wingspan 26 in (66 cm)
Sooty Grouse Calls

This common grouse is large, with a long neck and tail. Males are darker in coloring, with tail feathers tipped in lighter grey, while females are speckled grey-brown overall. Males have yellow "eyebrows". When displaying for mating, males puff up their throats to show apteria, bright yellow skin patches on either side of the neck, accompanied by deep, hooting calls.

A bird with white feathers transitioning to speckled grey feathers.
White-tailed Ptarmigan (plumage in transition)

NPS Photo

White-tailed Ptarmigan
Lagopus leucura

Habitat: alpine
Seasons: uncommon year-round
Size: length 12.5 in (31.7 cm), wingspan 22 in (56 cm)
White-tailed Ptarmigan Calls

Ptarmigan are adapted for cold alpine areas of the park, with feathered feet that let them walk across snow as well as provide insulation. Their coloring also shifts with the seasons, from all white in winter to grey-brown speckles in summer when breeding. Males have orange "eyebrows" when breeding and darker black speckles on the neck and breast with a white belly.

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Last updated: November 25, 2019

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