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Tuesday 05 March updated on 03-05-2024 at 8:06

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The Black Grouse is a medium-sized bird of the chicken family. This bird, also known as the «little heather cock» is an iconic species in the region and is only found in the Alps.

How to recognise it?

First of all, this family of birds has a significant sexual dimorphism, which is to say the male and female look quite different.  The male is rather large, black with flecks of blue and a lyre-shaped tail. He is easy to recognise thanks to his thick red caruncles (eyebrows) As for the female, she is lighter with a brown plumage speckled with black which blends into the background.

This rare and protected species likes cold climates and seeks out terrain which is snow-covered during the winter. They live in forests and Alpine meadowland, preferably at an altitude between 1600m and 2300m. They also love perching high up in a tree. What they have a particular liking for is calm. They need peace and quiet and choose solitude. They are unsociable and highly sensitive to disturbances; it is recommended that you do not approach them.

(copie 3)

In winter, they prefer to sleep under the snow. The Black Grouse conserves its energy and digs out a little igloo under the powder snow, only coming out for a few hours to feed.
Its reserves being limited, berries, shoots, pine and larch needles, it rests up. Just taking off requires a lot of energy.
These feathered creatures are like off-pisteskiers, they love light forests, north-facing slopes and above all: pow-pow!

In spring, keep your ears open, they adore singing and cooing melodiously from May onwards. At this time of year, you can watch the « mating dances » also known as « leks ». All the males gather in clearings to sing, strut and squabble in front of the females. The females will choose the male they consider dominant. Several months later, little eggs will appear.

NB: they gather in the same place every year!

How to watch them?

These galliforms are rare and difficult to watch! Generally, you will see them just as they fly off at your feet or hear their chattering from afar. Keep your eyes and ears wide open and you may have the rare privilege of coming across them :)  

Please note, you will have understood that these little birds are a rare and protected species and above all they like calm. It is therefore important not to disturb them and not to approach them.

Les Arcs & the Black Grouse

Our resort is part of the « Birdski » programme,  run by the Vanoise Park. The aim of the programme is to protect this rare species, specifically by GPS monitoring, an analysis of their winter habitat and, above all, we have marked out a quiet zone using cartographic data so that the Black Grouse can sleep peacefully throughout the winter.