capercaillie

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capercaillie

, capercailzie
a large European woodland grouse, Tetrao urogallus, having a black plumage and fan-shaped tail in the male

Capercaillie

 

(Tetrao urogallus), a bird of the family Tetraonidae, order Galliformes. The males weigh an average 4,100 g; females, 2,000 g. In males the top of the head, the neck, and the back are gray with dark markings, the wings are brown, the crop is black with a green metallic sheen, and the lower part of the body is dark with large white spots. The female’s plumage has dark and rusty ocher diagonal stripes. It is a sedentary bird, but sometimes performs seasonal migrations. It inhabits evergreen, mixed, and deciduous forests of Europe and Asia (in Siberia, it is found in the east as far as Western Transbaikalia, Olekminsk, and Viliuisk). The zone of distribution and the number of capercaillies has sharply diminished during the past two centuries; in some places they have disappeared. They were exterminated in Great Britain by the middle of the 18th century; in 1837 they were imported there from Sweden and acclimatized. In the USSR the capercaillie is retreating northward as forests are cut down; it has completely disappeared in a number of oblasts south of the forest zone (Kursk, Voronezh, and Tula, among others). It is polygamous.

The birds gather in the same mating places during the mating period year after year. They mate (March to May) on the ground and in trees; sometimes they mate summer, autumn, and even winter. The nest is on the ground, six to eight eggs to a clutch, rarely 12 to 16 eggs. Only the female sits, for a period of 25-28 days. Diet consists of shoots, flowers, buds, and berries in summer; the young eat insects and spiders. In the autumn, the capercaillie eats larch needles; in winter, pine and spruce needles and buds. It is the object of hunting for sport and, in some places, commercial hunting.

REFERENCES

Kirikov, S. V. “Rod glukhari.” In Ptitsy Sovetskogo Soiuza, vol. 4. Edited by G. P. Dement’ev and N. A. Gladkov. Moscow, 1952.
Teplov, V. P. “Glukhar’ v Pechersko-Ylychskom zapovednike.” In Trudy Pechersko-Ylychskogo zapovednika, issue 4, part 1. Moscow, 1947.
Semenov-Tian-Shanskii, O. I. “Ekologiia teterevinykh ptits.” In Trudy Laplandskogo gosudarstvennogo zapovednika, issue 5. Moscow, 1960.

A. M. SUDILOVSKAIA