Family Pheasants, Partridges, Turkeys, Grouse (Phasianidae)

Least Concern

Sooty Grouse (Dendragapus fuliginosus)


French: Tétras fuligineux German: Küstengebirgshuhn Spanish: Gallo fuliginoso

Canace obscura var. fuligniosa

[sic] Ridgway

, 1873,

Cascade Mountains and Chiloweyuck Depot, Washington


Often lumped with D. obscurus, but separated#R on basis of molecular evidence#R, a decision supported by yellow, not red, exposed breast patch in display (3); distinct pale tailband (2); and differences in hooting song#R, involving usually six vs usually five syllables (“hoots”) given at both higher pitch (110–175 Hz vs 50–100 Hz) and louder volume (audible to 500 m vs audible to 40 m) (at least 2). Races sierrae and howardi sometimes placed in D. obscurus#R. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • D. f. sitkensis Swarth, 1921 – Alexander Archipelago (SE Alaska) S to Queen Charlotte Is (British Columbia).
  • D. f. fuliginosus (Ridgway, 1873) – coastal mountains from S Yukon and British Columbia (including Vancouver I) S to NW California, ranging interiorly in N California to W Siskiyou and Trinity Counties.
  • D. f. sierrae Chapman, 1904 – inner coastal ranges of W USA from C Washington (Cascades) S to C California (Sierra Nevada), E to Warner Mts and W Nevada (Carson Range).
  • D. f. howardi Dickey & van Rossem, 1923 – California from S Sierra Nevada (from 37° N) S to Greenhorn Mts; apparently extirpated farther S, on Piute Mts, Tehachapi Mts, Mt Pinos and Frazier Mt.
  • Descriptive notes

    Male 47–57 cm, 1117–1245 g; female 44–48 cm, c. 829–890 g. Relatively large grouse. Male mostly dark grey or slate-coloured, with pale tailband;... read more


    Male’s song is basically similar to that of D. obscurus, but with several notable... read more


    Open montane forest from lower treeline to alpine/subalpine areas, in variety of pine, juniper,... read more

    Food and feeding

    During winter months feeds almost entirely (c. 88%) on needles of firs (Pseudotsuga, Abies), sometimes those of pines (... read more


    Lays late Apr–Jun. Male territories are usually held for life; in California, hooting sites generally on upper portions of W-facing slopes... read more


    Makes post-breeding shift to higher levels, where it spends winter months before descending in... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Has reasonably large range, extending from SE Alaska and W Canada S to SW USA (California). Race howardi apparently lost... read more

    Recommended citation

    del Hoyo, J., Collar, N., Christie, D.A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Sooty Grouse (Dendragapus fuliginosus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 9 December 2019).