Wild hens on forest roads

Photo: Arne Ader
Translation: Liis
Capercaillie cock and hen picking gravel on forest road
Capercaillie; Western capercaillie
Capercaillie hens are much smaller than the cocks with their black plumage. The cocks are notable for the prominent red, fleshy wattles at the brows. The tail feathers of older birds can be up to forty centimetres long, and they become curved or lyre-shaped. This is the largest of the European wild hen (Galliformes) species.
The birds prefer bog landscapes, in autumn feeding on berries with good appetite. On gravel roads they pick small stones: the craw of Galliformes birds works like a small mill. They usually keep to the ground; when something should disturb them they rise into flight with loud rustling. They are only able to fly short distances and at comparatively low height.

With good autumn weather the capercaillies have displays (leks) in autumn too, but these mating rituals are of course not comparable to the springtime leks.




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