Posted by the Animal of the Year team, 25.08.16
Our Latvian badger friends sent a video where outside the home of the badger, faithful to his burrows, another creature true to its location walks by – a hazel grouse. In Estonia the bird stays the year round, usually close to its nest location, and can manage in a quite limited area. However, due to its fidelity to habitat the hazel grouse is vulnerable; the felling of mature mixed spruce forests reduces the suitable habitats for it. It is a protected bird in Estonia as well as in Latvia.
Badgers are not wholly innocent as regards the wellbeing of hazel grouse. Since it is a ground nesting bird, the badger goes every now and then to snatch hazel grouse eggs. But a favour for a favour! The hazel grouse has walked past our “A week in the woods” camera too and we have also seen how the bird picks up small gravel for its crop: what the badger scratched out from the burrows during the great cleaning bustle. The hazel grouse needs fine gravel. Otherwise it would have to fly to roads and ditches, now it can manage in the middle of the forest. And pays for it in eggs in spring! The partners are satisfied.
For interested readers - Arne Ader has written more about hazel grouse in Looduskalender some time ago.