Black grouse visit lek sites

Text: Kristel Vilbaste
Translation: Liis
Black grouse hens in birch. Alam-Pedja.
Ever more often black-feathered grouse can be seen in birch tops. In spring birch buds is a major part of the diet of the grouse..
Gradually they move closer to their display or lek sites; in south-western Estonia this week quiet grouse cooing can already be heard.
In early March at the latest the first grouse cocks are in place on the lek sites; feather streaks from their wide-spread wings and traces of jumps can be seen in the snow. Every male bird has its defined territory and a timely arrival prevents major battles.
The black grouse lek lasts from mid-April to mid-May. During that time the display activity of the cocks is particularly great. They fly to the lek site already an hour or an hour and a half before sunrise, in May even two hours. The morning display lasts about five to six hours and proceeds in two stages: in the twilight and after sunrise. In between a pause is taken beginning either a little before or after sunrise and lasting from ten minutes to an hour and half, usually half an hour up to an hour.
Last year’s young and those older male birds that haven’t managed to defend their territory keep to the edges of the lek sites, display only for short periods, move around and often feed. They may visit several lek sites during a spring.




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