Capercaillie: feeding, singing, endangered species and more.

Capercaillie, a flying creature of great appearance and surprising matrimonial behavior, speaks of one of the symbols of protection of mountain forests. Species connected to the boreal taiga of conifers across Eurasia, where it is still inexhaustible, has only two subspecies which are in the Cantabrian Mountains and the Pyrenees. Less than 1,500 specimens can currently be found in Spain. (See Article About: Cages of canaries).


The capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) is a galliform type of animal which is of the family Phasianidae. It is generally seen in much of northern Europe (Scandinavia, the Baltic region and Russia) and in small mountain enclaves in temperate zones, for example, the Cantabrian coast, the Pyrenees, the Alps and the Jura.

In Spain, since 1979, hunting of this species has been banned, and since 1986 it has been named as a safe animal category although this has not implied an expansion in the population so far. It is seen as a relic of the ice age, in light of the fact that after this period the population was evicted to the cold places of Europe and the high mountains.

How is the female and the male

  • It is a robust looking bird, like different grouse. Males are huge with a surprisingly large tail. The female is slimmer and significantly smaller than the male.
  • Grouse exhibit extraordinary sexual dimorphism. Males and females are effectively separated by size and dye. Males are larger, weighing in the range of 3.3 and 6.7 kg. The largest example recorded in the prison weighed 7.2 kg.
  • They can measure from 74 to 115 cm and have a wingspan of about 1.2 m.
  • They have an exceptionally dark to dark dark overall shade, with metallic green highlights on the breast feathers.
  • The feathers on the belly and underside of the tail change from dark to white, depending on the breed to which they have a place.
  • They are described with feathers under the muzzle as facial hair, a tail formed by fans and red tubercles over the eyes.(See Article About: The Euskal Oiloa).
  • Capercaillies are smaller, weighing about a small part of the males. Their body from nose to tail measures approximately 54-64 cm.
  • It has a wingspan of about 70 cm and weighs between 1.5-2.5 kg.
  • The plumage of its upperparts is dark with dark mottling, the middle section is somewhat lighter and yellowish.
  • Both sexes have white spots on their shoulders.
  • Their legs are secured with spikes, especially in cool seasons, which protects them from low temperatures. Their toes are short and broad.
  • The chicks are shaded like the females, allowing them to cover themselves with a tuft of dark barbs.
  • After 3 months they begin to gain their adult male or female hue.
  • Younger specimens are lighter. The largest specimens of Capercaillie can be found in southern Finland.


Capercaillie live in patchy areas with clearings and open coniferous forests where herbaceous vegetation, water and berries abound. It normally perches on the flat branches of trees, which is a prerequisite for its scent.

The grouse is posed on the basis that it has a regular feeding routine, which is related to the season of the year it is going through. In spring it feeds on beech buds and different herbaceous species.

In summer, the capercaillie feeds on grass, subway insect broods and chrysalises, oak seeds, berries, reptiles and even snakes.At harvest time, the main nutrition is cranberry. In winter, it is reinforced in various types of tree buds: berry, birch catkins, pine needles and berries (and without these, leaves) of holly.

The capercaillie is a species that adapts to different environments of the places where it lives, it can be seen as found in huge forest lands, especially in regions with dense vegetation which has trees suitable for its survival, it is found in humid living spaces and old forests, however, it can also be well in distant forests carefully controlled.

In recent decades the capercaillie has been strongly affected by the various factors affecting its ecosystem and lifestyle, and has declined in Finland, where its current population is estimated at 200,000 to 300,000 pairs.

The main factor for this decline in this area are logging adjustments on timber lands, the reduced accessibility of sufficiently secure breeding sites (as a result of forest clearance and other forestry measures), the loss of areas in which to shelter, the fact that they are being persecuted and the large number of small predators present in the area, e.g. the raccoon cub. (See Article About: The Eclectus Parrot).


The warm season continues from March until the main third of May. The grouse makes dissenting cries at day break and nightfall from some high point that attracts females; these cries gave this name to the creature as they were said to be like those of the grouse (finished like the ox). At that point it reaches the ground and covers a domain 50 to 100 meters wide, continues with its conquest and has sexual relations with several females at the same time.

Females range from five to twelve eggs, usually held in an opening in the ground where they are obvious targets for pigs, stray dogs, weasels and goshawks. In addition, nestling mortality is high in the main long stretches of life, so their population gradually increases.

The nest is made by the female in an opening in the ground which is covered under a tree or branch, or among shrubs predominant in the region. The female lays 5 to 12 eggs in a period between April and May, the same female hatches them and takes care of them for a period of 24-29 days. Young capercaillie chicks discover how to fly 24-29 days after hatching.

Some Capercaillies are found in urbanized regions, which are classified as “leks” in spring to make a spectacle of fabulous romance. Females choose a mate from among the types on display before them. The males remain in these leks and sit still for the females to appear. (See Article About: Phoenicurus Phoenicurus Phoenicurus).

In the spring, male grouse may approach females and either continue gently or do so forcefully in the event that no females are discovered on lek. This may happen if females never show up again in territories near leks due to changes in forest living spaces.

What is their diet like

The Capercaillie is a sedentary bird, and hesitant to move for long distances from its typical region. It has no considered dominance; outside the breeding season, males gather in flocks and so do females.

The food of the Capercaillie will depend on the area where it is found and the ease with which it can obtain food on the precise occasion, but it generally feeds on plant shoots and seeds in late spring; berries and grains in pre-winter; Winter feeding comprises only pine needles from specific types of decaying trees.

The Capercaillie in danger of extinction

Although the Capercaillie has been insured since 1986 throughout Spain, its population has been gradually declining since that point to disturbing levels. While poaching is increasingly sought after and causing less damage, it is the devastation or change of the Capercaillie’s regular environment that is causing its demise.

Continuous and uncontrolled deforestation causes the scarcity of the trees on which the capercaillie lives.

The practices carried out by humans as domesticated animals, chases of different species, for example, wild pig or games, such as climbing, skiing or mountaineering, affect the serenity required by the capercaillie for its generation in the rutting season, despite changing its common habitat through forests, tracks, forged trails or game sites.

The urbanization of wooded areas causes that these birds can not reproduce and live as they are used to, generally the flights of the Capercaillie are short and low altitude perching on each specific separation in the branches. A basic fence, a high tension link or land clearing can affect their environment and will genuinely hinder their development and thus their regenerative limit.

There are obstacles that affect the male, as he produces amid the heat a sort of cry, at dawn and dusk, which is affected by the fact of human exercises. Likewise, the egg laying mode gives a feasible pair of chicks.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fishing, Food and Environment has perceived out of the blue the basic circumstance of the Cantabrian Capercaillie and the blue-green pardus, two symbolic types of this nation’s flying creatures that are dangerously on the verge of being wiped out. For the Spanish Ornithological Society (SEO), this choice must be converted into viable, planned measures to guarantee the preservation of the species.

The announcement was made at the meeting of the Environment area. The Ministry additionally incorporates different species in a “basic circumstance”: the Lesser Grey Shrike (symbolizing the insecure condition of the avifauna connected to agrarian situations), the European mink; the Cartagena rockrose; the eared naiad and the normal mother-of-pearl.

The circumstance of the Capercaillie is extremely genuine, as at present the species has vanished from large areas in the north of Castilla y León and suffers a 30% decline in Catalonia. In Aragon, less than 40 specimens were distinguished in 2011 and they are considered absent from Galicia. Its essence is, to all intents and purposes, surplus in Cantabria and Navarra, and the correct status of the population in Asturias is unknown.

In SEO’s feeling, it is important to make a far-reaching global assessment at the peninsular level so that, with genuine information on the statistical status of the population, we can obtain an approximation guide for the species. At the moment, only Catalonia has a total record of the entire self-sustaining domain.

What’s left of Spain has not made any enumeration lately or simply counted a part of their region. Thinking about the abnormal state of risk, the steady decline of its transport area and the negative inclination of the vast majority of its populations, it is absolutely inadequate that there is no solid and up to date information on the true circumstance of the species. The best way to ensure that adequate management and preservation measures are taken

Know your song

Romantic sounds are made up of three components: clicks, slurps and high-pitched sounds. The moment the birds take flight, you can hear a solid flapping of wings. (See Article About: The Nightjar).

It is a quiet group of animals all year round.In romance, the male radiates a stereotypical low-volume serenade that includes a progression of clicks, taps, dragged through a three-section stanza: a “rolling” or “tapping”, a sharp “taponazo” and a long panting progression (“Seguidilla” or “refilo”).

What happens with them in Austrias

The situation of the Capercaillie in Austrias is critical, its population has disappeared in large numbers, in this region have realized the great absence of this bird, so it has become a critical situation around the world and has sought ways to preserve this species as well as many other species of birds that are currently endangered.

Asturias has just approved a preservation plan for the natural environment, Aragon has a draft protection plan pending approval and Catalonia, although it does not yet have one, is creating particular preservation activities for this species.

As far as possible, the Government of Navarra included rules and measures for the recovery of the species in the Management Plan of a Special Conservation Zone (ZEC), however, it does not have a particular arrangement either. Galicia does not have plans for the species either.

Currently there are some plans to protect also a very common species in the area such as the blue-green marbled grouse, there are much more records and it seems that there is more interest in this bird than in the grouse itself.

The faint blue-green marbled duck is one of the “alternative lynxes” of Doñana. This duck with distinctive dark hues became the most widely recognized sedimentary waterbird in the Guadalquivir marshes, with groups of more than a thousand flying creatures at the turn of the century.

On display, the population in Spain varies extraordinarily depending on the accessibility of the natural environment, although in most cases it does not exceed 200 sets. Approximately 80% of the population is packed in the wetland of El Hondo (Alicante) and in the territory of Doñana, in spite of the fact that, to all intents and purposes, it disappeared as a breeding population in the confinement points of this national stop.

There is more notable population information on the Greenish Blue than on the Capercaillie. In any case, the declaration of “basic circumstance” obliges us to refine the data significantly more and to execute a pressing activity plan that controls the population decline by addressing, with a satisfactory budgetary gift, its causes.

For SEO, there is only one agreement in the medium and long term to preserve the species in Spain: to increase the reasonable common natural environment for the species. Because of Doñana, the greenish blue is one of the unmistakable victims of the overexploitation of the aquifer.

Cantabrian capercaillie

The Cantabrian capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus cantabricus) is a subspecies of the western capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus), an animal of the galliform type, which belongs to the family Phasianidae endemic to the Cantabrian Mountains. (See Article About: The Black-capped Sparrow).

At the moment populations are limited to the bumpy areas of Asturias, some areas of northern Castilla y León (especially in the region of León) and the mountainous regions of western Cantabria. In Galicia it was found in the locality of Ancares, however, there are no records of occupations of these since 2005.

Characteristics of the Cantabrian Capercaillie

  • The capercaillie is a large-sized galliform, its average stature is 80 to 115 cm in length, the female is smaller than the male.
  • It is represented by a dark and dark plumage with a blackish sheen around the head and neck.
  • It has a tail for quite some time tight, a white ivory top and a rubicund spot over the eye.

Cantabrian Capercaillie habitat

The Cantabrian capercaillie circulated throughout the Cantabrian Mountains, from northern Portugal to Galicia, Asturias and Leon, to Cantabria, northern Spain, at the moment, its region of appropriation is limited to the extension of the Cantabrian Mountains, in northwestern Spain. The subspecies occupies a territory of 1,700 km², and its dispersal region is isolated from its closest neighbor, the capercaillie subspecies (T. ua aquitanicus) that lives in the Pyrenees by a separation of more than 300 km.

It is not known precisely when the disconnection of the Cantabrian population from the Pyrenees occurred, however, presumably, it happened no earlier than the 18th century. Lately, until the end of the 19th century, the species possessed a wide expansion, in any case, from eastern Cantabria, Obarenes and the mountains of La Rioja.

Despite the general conviction and a specific academic part, the decisive component for the Cantabrian capercaillie is the structure of its ecosystem, and not the types of trees in its environment. In this way, and in the face of human-centered deforestation of the Cantabrian pine timberlands, it has had to adjust, since the Middle Ages, to deciduous forests, unequivocally imperfect and which has kept the species in a tense equilibrium.

The low relative altitude of its natural environment above ocean level, the hyper-humid Atlantic character and the introduction to the north are not compatible with the species and the conditions to which it has adapted over so many decades. (See article on: How to incubate chicken eggs).

These variables were caused by a strong human intervention in their natural environment that managed to keep the forests in serious conditions, so the structure of the territory in which they live is not conventional to what they really need.

The Cantabrian capercaillie is an extremely flexible category of animals and is found in beech (Fagus sylvatica) with an unmistakable structure, mixed forests of beech and oak (Quercus robur, Q. petraea and Q. pyrenaica), birch (Betula alba) and characteristic stands of Scots pine and conifer reforestation, in steep regions ranging from 800 to 1,800 m.

It also uses different types of shrub microhabitats, borer (Genista spp.), heather (Erica spp.) and meadow regions. Specifically, beech buds, birch (B. alba) catkins and holly leaves (Ilex aquifolium), it also stimulates cranberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), which is a constant utilization segment of its feeding regime.

Protection and threat of the Cantabrian Capercaillie

The current population of the Cantabrian Capercaillie is estimated to comprise about 625 feathered creatures, of which approximately 500 are adults, according to the latest population information collected from 2000 to 2003.

Population gauges for the various subspecies of Capercaillie are mostly determined by including male alarms (conventional locations where males gather in the middle of the warm season and where they seek to attract females).

According to established censuses, there has been a 60-70% reduction in the number of individuals exhibited at the singing grounds at the southern end of the mountain since 1981. This is proportional to a normal decline of 3% each year, or 22% in the last 8 years. There is also confirmation of a 30% decline in cantaor control in the northern part of the appropriation area in the range of 2000 and 2005.

In light of the information collected in the 2000 and 2003 range, these breeders assume that the Cantabrian Capercaillie circulation on the southern slope of the Cantabrian mountain range is divided into 13 small subpopulations: four in the western zone and nine in the east. Six subpopulations (5 in the east and 1 in the west) contained a single male song, which shows a little population, as the proximity of male performers has an immediate connection with the population figures.

The territory involved by the Cantabrian grouse in 1981-1982 secured approximately 2070 km2 of the southern slope, 972 km2 in the west and 1098 km. Although this population and how it is spread varies each year due to the different difficulties and situations that these birds have to go through during their lives, perhaps it will continue to decrease each year until this majestic bird finally disappears.

Of the peninsular subspecies, the Cantabrian Capercaillie (T. u cantabricus) has the most dire future prospects in the medium term, as its populations begin to be confined from one another without the likelihood of hereditary restoration.

The Capercaillie population in Galicia is considered basically eliminated since it is disconnected from the rest. In Cantabria it is seen as terminated and there are some outstanding units in the Picos de Europa condition without any utility, despite the fact that relatively few decades before this species spread to the Sierra de Híjar and the headwaters of Saja and Nansa.

The populations of Asturias and León begin to dissociate and lose conceptual limits. Different activity designs have been proposed but all with an achievement close to zero. The current affirmation of part of the Cantabrian mountain as a Biosphere Reserve may be a small lifesaver. Different designs have proposed specimen breeding and restricted hereditary access between people from different populations.

Contrary to the general conviction and a specific academic area, the decisive element for the Cantabrian Capercaillie is the structure, and not the types of trees, of its natural environment. In this way and before the human-centered elimination of the Cantabrian pine forests, it has needed to adapt, since the Middle Ages to deciduous forests, unmistakably imperfect and which have kept the species in a tense equilibrium for many years.

The low relative stature of its territory above ocean level, the hyper-adhesive character of the Atlantic and the introduction to the north are not compatible with this species. These variables were balanced by a solid human intercession in its territory that allowed it to maintain in the deciduous lowlands the impossible-to-support living space structure it needs. (See Article About: The Scavenger Birds).

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