Land Bird Conservation Plan Colorado  

Executive Summary
Overview of Colorado
Physiographic Region 36
Physiographic Region 62

  • Alpine Tundra
  • Aspen
  • Cliff/Rock
  • High Elevation Riparian
  • Lowland Riparian
  • Mixed Conifer
  • Mountain Shrubland
  • Ponderosa Pine
  • Sagebrush Shrubland
  • Spruce Fir
  • Wetlands

  • Physiographic Region 87
    Implementation Strategies
    Literature Cited

    Physiographic Region 62: Southern Rocky Mountains

    Blue Grouse (Dendragapus obscurus)

    Associated Species: Other species that may use habitat in a similar way and/or respond similarly to threats, management, and conservation activities include American Robin and Hermit Thrush.

    Distribution: Blue Grouse reside year-round throughout the Southern and Northern Rocky Mountains, western Canada, Oregon, and Washington, and northern California.

    Habitat Requirements: Blue Grouse inhabit upper elevation shrub habitats, including subalpine krummholz, and open forests with shrub understory, including mixed-conifer where aspen is present. Young broods appear to favor mesic areas with lush vegetation and high concentrations of invertebrate prey. In winter they spend most of their time in conifer trees, especially Douglas-fir.

    Ecology: Blue Grouse begin courtship activities in mid April and continue to late May. The peak of hatching in Colorado is mid June to early July. Young leave the nest within 24 hours after the last egg has hatched. Their diet consists of leaves, flowers, the berries of a wide variety of herbs and shrubs (including Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, Vaccinium, Fragaria, Amelanchier, Ribes, Rubus, Rosa), conifer needles (including Douglas-fir and lodgepole pine, primarily in winter), and invertebrates (principally ants, beetles, and grasshoppers).

    Management Issues and Conservation Recommendations: In dense forests of the Pacific Northwest, logging often boosts local populations by creating open areas; similar results would not be expected in Colorado except where forests are very dense, given its generally more open forests. Logging could reduce thermal cover and food supply (conifer needles). Blue Grouse are hunted in Colorado; the numbers harvested have dropped steadily since 1979. The decline could result from fewer birds or from fewer hunters; a lack of research has hampered identifying the causes of the reported decline.

    Status and Reasons for Concern: Blue Grouse are not adequately monitored by the BBS within Physiographic Area 62, and sample sizes are too small to permit analysis of trends. However, BBS data for 1966-1996 reveal a statistically significant, survey-wide annual rate of decline (-3.6%; P = 0.02; n = 73 routes). Blue Grouse were present on an average of 6.51% (SE = 1.71) of the BBS routes run in Physiographic Area 62 in Colorado during 1988-1997, at an average abundance of 0.07 (SE = 0.02) individuals per route. The mean number of routes run each year was 21.1 (SE = 3.06). This species is monitored by CDOW.

    Biological Objective: Maintain or increase the species' distribution and abundance based on results of CDOW and MCB monitoring programs.

    Selected References: Andrews and Righter 1992, Kingery 1998, Schroeder 1984, Zwickel 1992.

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