Capercaillie - the Bird Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Capercaillie - the Bird

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The Capercaillie (Latin name Tetrao Urogallus) is a type of game bird in the family Tetraonidae/Phasianidae, order Galliformes, which includes birds such as the Grouse and Prairie Chicken.

The Capercaillie is primarily found in the highland areas of Scotland alongside its cousin the Black Grouse, but also shows up in Europe and western Asia. The male may be 90cm (35in) long and weigh around 5kg (12lbs) and as such is regarded as a prime catch by hunters. It has black plumage with a distinctive iridescent blue/green gizzard and dark reddish-brown wings. It also has a red circle of skin around the eye and its crop is embellished with a small feather plume.

Eating Habits

The birds live in pine forests where they subsist on seeds, berries, worms, and some insects in the summer and on pine shoots in the winter.

Mating and Courtship

Capercaillie use a variety of courtship techniques, and may gather in large groups for display purposes. The more open the area, the more social the display. The most striking feature of the display is the clicking and croaking sound made by the males. The males are also polygamous and can have up to 10 mates. Nesting takes place on the ground in a shallow scrape often lined with grass and leaves.

The Capercaillie also lends its name to a very good Scottish rock group headed by Karen Matheson - whose voice is significantly sweeter sounding.

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