The capercaillie is a fairly large bird. The male is the capercaillie. It weighs about four to five kilograms and measures about one meter from the beak to the beginning of the tail feathers. Its open wings measure almost a meter. It is green on the chest and shines like metal.
The female is the capercaillie. It is significantly smaller and only about half the weight of the male. Its spread wings are also smaller. Its colors are brown with black and silver stripes. On the belly, it is a little lighter and slightly yellowish.
Capercaillie prefers it cool. They are therefore mainly found in the northern areas of Europe and Asia. There they live in light coniferous forests, for example in the taiga. In Central Europe, they are found in the mountains a thousand meters above sea level.
Capercaillies cannot fly very well, mostly they only flap a little. They prefer to move on the ground. Their legs are strong and have feathers. In winter, they also grow feathers on their toes. This allows them to move about in the snow as easily as if they had snowshoes.
Capercaillie almost exclusively eats plants. In summer it is mainly blueberries and their leaves. There are also seeds of grasses and young shoots. In winter they eat needles and buds from various trees. They also eat some rocks. They remain in the stomach forever and help break down the food there.
The capercaillie mate between March and June. The grouse lays five to twelve eggs. A hollow in the ground serves as a nest. The young are precocial, meaning they leave the nest on their legs. However, they quickly return to their mother and warm themselves under her plumage. They eat the same as their parents. But there are also insects, especially caterpillars and pupae.
In biology, capercaillies are part of the order of Galliformes. It is therefore related to chicken, turkey, and quail, among others. Within Europe, it is the largest bird of this order.
Is the capercaillie endangered?
Capercaillies live up to twelve years in the wild and up to sixteen in captivity. That’s enough for one female to lay over a hundred eggs. Their natural enemies are foxes, martens, badgers, lynxes, and wild boars. Birds of prey such as eagles, hawks, crows, the eagle owl, and a few others are also included. But nature can handle that.
There are still many millions of capercaillie. So the species is not endangered. However, most of them live in Russia and Scandinavia. In Austria, however, there are only a few thousand, in Switzerland a few hundred capercaillies. In Germany, they are threatened with extinction. There are still some in the Black Forest or in the Bavarian Forest.
The reason for this is man: he cuts down forests and thus destroys the habitat of the capercaillie. You only find them where nature is still untouched, and there are fewer and fewer such places here. Another reason for the low numbers is hunting. In the meantime, however, capercaillie is not hunted as much as they used to be. Hunting is forbidden here.