Nature Champions: Black Grouse

(c) Andy Hay

Black grouse are one of four members of the grouse family found in the UK, the others include red grouse, ptarmigan and capercaillie. Male black grouse perform displays at a ‘lek’ to attract the attention of females. This charismatic and exciting display involves them strutting and calling with their distinctive bubbling sound. It reaches its peak in spring when females gather to pick the most dominant male.

In the UK, black grouse can be found in the uplands where the moorland fringe meets woodland edge, utilising a mosaic of different habitats. They spend their life in the hills throughout the year. Scotland is home to around 70% of the UK population. Between 1995 and 2005 they showed a decline of 29% in Scotland with the largest declines recorded in the south and west. Black grouse are a red-listed species on the List of Birds of Conservation Concern and are considered a Scottish Biodiversity Action Plan priority.

Action Needed

  • Careful management with support available through rural development programmes.
  • Ensuring that forestry and woodlands are managed with this species in mind and are coordinated between neighbouring land uses.
  • Target conservation action where required most, within home range of black grouse populations, especially vulnerable Southern and Western Scottish populations.


  • Loss, fragmentation and degradation of their habitats
  • Collisions with deer fences and increased predation
  • The effects of climate change may also be a problem for this species

MSP Nature Champion

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