Dusky blues are the second largest grouse species in North America, measuring 17-22 inches in length. Males are a slate or blue-gray color, while females are mottled brown. They often tame quickly and can become fond of their owners.
Range: They range from southeast Alaska and the Northwest Territories through California, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico.
Habitat: They are considered a forest grouse and winter at higher elevations, but with the start of the breeding season in mid-March, they move lower to aspen sage areas, subalpine meadows, and creek bottoms.
Status in the Wild: Their numbers seem stable but they may be declining in some areas.
Status in Aviculture: Grouse are not a common captive bird.
Breeding and Incubation: Females lay 5-10 eggs. Chicks hatch after a 25-day incubation period. They fledge in 7-10 days but remain with the female through the summer and fall.
Mature Weight: Males weigh three pounds, while females weigh two pounds.
Housing Requirements: Dusky blues prefer cooler temperatures, but they do well in shaded areas. Provide a wide-ranging habitat with a variety of areas to perch, roost and explore. Include plants native to their natural environment. Use lightweight mesh or wire to cover the top of the enclosure. When threatened, grouse burst into the air, hence a heavy enclosure could cause serious damage to the birds. Grouse need to be housed at a 1-to-1 ratio, no more than 1 pair per pen.
Diet: In the wild, conifer needles make up much of their diet. They also feed on a wide variety of fruits, flowers, and invertebrates.
Dusky blues have a long digestive tract that requires vegetable matter to maintain proper function. In captivity, they should receive a mixed diet of natural plants supplemented with commercial game bird food. Feed in a manner that encourages foraging for their meals.