North Island Explorer: Guide to North Vancouver Island



American Bald Eagle on Vancouver Island.







































Male Blue Grouse.


Photo 1: A male Blue Grouse answering a challenge.



 Blue Grouse: Dendragapus obscurus

The Blue Grouse is a fairly common bird on Vancouver Island when you get out into timber country. You can often hear their 'wump-wump-wump' hooting from some distance away when you hike in the back woods. The noise they make has earned them the nickname 'hooter' among hunters and hikers.


The male Blue Grouse has a yellow nec sac surrounded by white feathers and a dark tail. The female has a dark mottled upper part with a grey under part. Male Blue Grouse are territorial and will defend their territory from other males. They can easily be coaxed into challenging a person by imitating their hooting.


Blue Grouse are nonmigratory, but they do travel up and down the mountain slopes at different times of the year. In the summer, they prefer mixed forests of lower elevations and, in winter, they prefer the conifers of higher elevations. Male Blue Grouse head for alpine meadows after breeding leaving the females to tend to the young on the lower slopes. Blue Grouse have one brood per year. Blue Grouse are mostly herbivores, feeding off of conifer needles, leaves, berries, and flowers, but they do supplement their diet with insects.


The Blue Grouse population on Vancouver Island is considered healthy, though the populations are declining in other areas of its range. Surprisingly, Blue Grouse population surge after clear cutting for about 15 years. This surge is then followed by a rapid decline as the new forest matures. Blue Grouse seem to do best in old growth forest and worst in maturing new growth.








 Other Vancouver Island Birds: Bald Eagle, Trumpeter Swan, Blue Grouse, Common Merganser, Canada Geese, Great Blue Heron, Varied Thrush, American Wigeon, Long-tailed Duck, Surf Scoter, Mallard, Bufflehead, Sharp-shinned Hawk