Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) is a large, spectacular bird of the grouse family found throughout Europe and Asia. Named after its call – a loud “cackle” or “kuk-kuk-kuk-kuk-kuk-kuk” – the capercaillie is one of the largest members of its group, with males reaching up to 90 cm (35 in) in length and weighing up 8 kg (18 lb).
Capercaillies inhabit large coniferous forests with dense areas of understorey shrubbery and open glades. These birds live in small family groups and only come together during the breeding season when they gather in numbers at traditional leks or display grounds. Here the males compete for females by strutting, displaying their feathers and producing a deep “booming” sound.
The male capercaillie is particularly impressive, with a distinctive black tail, purple-green neck feathers, and a mottled brown body. The females are less colourful but equally beautiful, with a speckled chestnut-brown plumage. To protect their young, the birds will generally stay in their wooded habitats and rely on their camouflage to remain out of sight. These birds are mainly ground-dwellers, but they will occasionally take flight to find food and escape predators.