Sooty Grouse
(Dendragapus fuliginosus)


Picture of bird
© Walter Siegmund - License
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

The Sooty Grouse is a large forest-dwelling grouse that occurs in the coastal forests of British Columbia. Until 2006, the Sooty Grouse and the similar Dusky Grouse were considered subspecies of Blue Grouse (D. obscurus). Breeding Bird Survey results suggest that the Sooty Grouse population in Canada has decreased by some 49% relative to about 1970. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.


Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Partners in Flight (North America)Watch list - yellow D2017 
Wild Species (Canada)Apparently secure2015 
State of North America’s BirdsWatch list2016 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaLarge DecreaseHighBelow Acceptable Level

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada50,000 - 500,000 adults

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence


Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population

Conservation and management

The Sooty Grouse is hunted in most areas with road access. The species lives in forests but often shows temporary, local increases in density following clear-cut logging (Niederleitner 1987). Density decreases as the canopy closes and remains low until the forest matures and natural canopy openings are created (Zwickel and Bendell 1985). The long-term effect of these fluctuations remains unknown (Zwickel and Bendell 2005). Reasons for the species decline remain unclear. However, disturbances associated with increasing energy development, along with habitat loss, may have a negative effect on grouse survival (Hovick et al. 2014).


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Northern Pacific RainforestNorthern Pacific Rainforest, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon -- Conservation & Stewardship