Capercaillie Tetrao urogallus   [Linnaeus, 1758]

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Order: Galliformes Family: Phasianidae
BTO Codes: CP, CAPER EURING No: 3350
Number in Britain: 0 (Summer)
Conservation Status:
European: Not a species of concern
Global: (Details)
Status in UK: (C3)  Re-introduced Breeder
Subspecies: urogallus recorded in Britain (of 9 subsp. in the world)
Length: 74 cm Wingspan: 106 cm Weight: M: 4.3 kg   F: 2 kg    
Scientific name from: Gr.: tetraon=a type of gamebird and German: auerhuhn=mountain cock + L.: gallus=a cock
World Distribution: n&c Europe, n&c Asia
Habitat: Conifer forest
Diet: Summer, dwarf shrubs, sedges (chicks on insects, spiders), Winter, pine shoots and needles
TitBit: Although Capercaillie have always been eaten (their remains occur in prehistoric middens), they have never been classified as Game as they were extinct by the time the Game Act was passed (1831).  
Identification Tips:
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Crossley ID photos BTO ID Workshop

Population and Distribution

Population Trend: No population trend available
Distribution: Atlas Mapstore   
British Population Size:
    Summer: 0 in
    Winter: 1300 individuals in 2009/10
    First Record: Recorded in Medieval times [Fossil evidence from Wolstonian (penultimate) glaciation, c. 150,000 yr ago]
    First Breeding Record: Introduced Perthshire (after extinct 1770s) 1837
    Conservation Status: RED because Recent Breeding Range Decline (1969-2007)
   Previous Assessments: 2002-2007 RED     1996-2001 RED  
   Races of Concern: urogallus RED (Recent Decline)
UK Biodiversity Action Plan (Lead Partner: CEH & RSPB)
Habitat Occupancy (in the Breeding Season):
    No habitat data from BBS
European Population Size:
    Summer: 360 to 550 thousand pairs
Population Assesment from Birds in Europe
Distribution in Europe mapped by the EBCC Atlas
Listed on the Appendices/Schedules of: WCA(I,II,III,IX), WBD(I,II*,III*), Bern(II*,III)
Survey Results: Results from BirdTrack

Breeding and Survival

Egg Size: 57 x 42 mm Egg Weight: 53.0 g (of which 8 % is shell)
Number of Nest Records: 2
Clutch Size: 7 - 11 eggs
Incubation: 24- 26 days   by the: Female
Fledging: 14 - 21days as: Precocial, downy
First Clutches Laid: Unavailable
Number of Broods: 1
Number Ringed: Annual Totals
Adult Survival: 0.720    (M:0.810 ; F:0.630 )      
Juvenile Survival: 0.500 (in First-Year)  
Age at First Breeding: Typical Lifespan: No data
Maximum Recorded Age: 3 years 6 months 8 days (set in 1996)
Read a summary of Ringing Recoveries


Ring Size: J* (females), L* (males)
Wing Length Adult: Insufficient Data
Juvenile: Insufficient Data
Male: Insufficient Data
Female: Insufficient Data
Weight Adult: Insufficient Data
Juvenile: Insufficient Data
Male: Insufficient Data
Female: Insufficient Data

Other Names

Western Capercaillie
Gaelic: Capall-coille Welsh:
Danish: Tjur Dutch: Auerhoen
Finnish: Metso; Koppelo French: Grand Tétras
German: Auerhuhn Hungarian: Siketfajd
Icelandic: Žišur Irish: Capall Coille
Italian: Gallo cedrone Norwegian: Storfugl
Polish: Gluszec zwyczajny Portuguese: Tetraz
Spanish: Urogallo Swedish: Tjäder
Collective Noun:Tok

For More Information...

Books and Monographs:
   Storch, I. 2001 BWP Update 3:1-24
   Watson, A. & Moss, R. 2008 Grouse Collins, London [598.543 WAT]
   Harvie-Brown, J.A. 1879 The Capercaillie in Scotland David Douglas, Edinburgh [598.543 HAR]
See Also:
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Wikipedia entry
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BirdLife species page
Recent sightings and information from BirdGuides