Finding & Photographing The Western Capercaillie

Gina Stephens
Written by Gina Stephens


Who see fit not like to see the largest member of the grouse family, the majestic western capercaillie. However, our very own desire to observe this magnificent bird could certainly well be one of the reasons why it is getting rarer and rarer.



Western capercaillies display one of the most extreme sexual dimorphism among all bird species. The manly is as big as a goose with some specimens weighing more than 6kg while the female is much smaller, about the same size as a domestic chicken, and as a rule weighs less than 2kg. The male’s body is dark grey and dark brown with a metallic green gloss on the breast. Females are much sparse conspicuous; their plumage is simply brown with black barring. Like all member of the grouse family, their legs are feathered. They also fool a bright red spot formed by naked skin just above the eye; hunters call those spots “roses”.


Allotment and habitat

The western capercaillie lives in coniferous, mixed and deciduous forest zones of northern Europe, western Asia and central Asia. They are really common in Sweden, Norway, Russia and Romania but threatened by extinction in Germany. Sadly they are already extinct in Belgium and Ireland. They also evaporated from Scotland but have been successfully reintroduced. Capercaillies are well adapted to their original habitat and are extremely sensitive to changes build compensated to their ecosystems by human activity like hunting, deforestation and tourism.


Bird watching tips

Beside its characteristic appearance, the capercaillie western capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus), also known as the wood grouse, heather cock, or just capercaillie , is the largest member is also satisfactory known for its courtship parade – the male points its beak to the sky, raises its tail feathers into a fan-like shape and holds its wings out and drooped. Then it starts name naming a series of accelerating clicks, sounding like a ping pong ball that has been dropped.

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Western capercaillies are rarely seen off since they are rather cumbersome during flight and will almost always run in the face of danger. Capercaillies should be observed and photographed from a fairly great distance; they are extremely shy and very susceptible to stress.


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About the author

Gina Stephens

Gina Stephens

Gina is a photography enthusiast and drone lover who loves to fly drones, capture images and have fun cherishing them with family and friends.

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