The Hazel Grouse or Hazel Hen (Bonasa bonasia) is one of the smaller members of the grouse family of birds.
Distribution / Range
It is a sedentary species, breeding across northern Eurasia and central and eastern Europe in dense, damp, mixed coniferous woodland, preferably with some spruce.
This is a relatively small grouse at 35-39cm length. The plumage of this plump bird is finely patterned, but Hazel Grouse essentially has grey upperparts, brown wings and chestnut flecked white underparts.
The male has a short erectile crest and a white-bordered black throat.
The female has a shorter crest and lacks the black throat. In flight, this species shows a black-tipped grey tail.
Nesting / Breeding
The nest is on the ground, and 3-6 eggs is the normal clutch size. The female takes all responsibility for incubating the eggs and caring for the chicks, as is typical with gamebirds.
Calls / Vocalizations
The male has a high-pitched ti-ti-ti-ti-ti call, and the female a liquid tettettettettet. The calls, or the burr of the flying birds’ wings, are often the only indication of this grouse’s presence, since its shyness and dense woodland habitat make it difficult to see.
Diet / Feeding
This bird feeds on the ground, taking mainly plant food, supplemented by insects when breeding.