British wildlife recordings

Tetrao tetrix : Black Grouse - Phasianidae

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  • Shelf mark

    W1CDR0001417 BD24

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  • Recording date


  • Recording locations

    Banchory, Fife, Scotland: OS Grid Reference(326500,688500)

  • Recordist

    Shove, Lawrence

  • Species

    Black Grouse, Tetrao tetrix

  • Description

    Display songs of male black grouse recorded on the edge of the moorland at Banchory, Scotland. The black grouse is an upland bird of north and west Britain and about the same size as a domestic chicken. The male or 'cock' is glossy black with a red wattle over its eye, a white wing bar, and a distinctive lyre-shaped tail. This contrasts with the smaller grey-brown female. The black grouse is a bird of moorland edge, hill-farms and young conifer plantations, often spending its entire life span very close to its birth site. Like all grouse it is mainly vegetarian, feeding on heather shoots, bilberries, and a variety of leaves and berries from trees in the winter. In spring, the males indulge in elaborate displays at a courting ground or 'lek' to establish mating rights. This 'lekking' behaviour involves each male strutting and posturing whilst producing a song that combines bubbling noises with harsh grating sounds. After displaying and mating, the male has nothing more to do with its family. There are currently 6,500 displaying males each spring and this is a huge reduction on the numbers recorded in the 19th century. The disappearance of black grouse from many areas is thought to be due to the intensification of agriculture and overgrazing by sheep and deer. Wire fences also cause numerous casualties.

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