Published in support of the UK Biodiversity Action Plan for black grouse

Ecology

Nesting

Once the males have mated with the females at the lek, the female does everything, from nest building to chick rearing. Black grouse nest on the ground, in tall (40 cm/16 inches), reasonably dense vegetation, usually mature heather or rushes. The female makes a shallow depression and lines it with grasses and moss. She lays 6-11 eggs, some time between late April and early June (depending on altitude and how far north it is). She has only one brood per year, though if the eggs are destroyed, she may lay another clutch, usually with fewer eggs.

Chicks hatch after about 3-4 weeks. They leave the nest immediately and are able to fly weakly by their second week. Once all the chicks have hatched, the hen leads them to feed in insect-rich vegetation, such as wet flushes with a mix of heather, bog myrtle, rush and white grasses (fescues and bents). The chicks become fully independent after two to three months. The cock poults leave the family group first, in early September, with the females remaining with the hen until October or November.

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