The western capercaillie is the largest member of the grouse family. It is the pride of our hunting grounds. The western capercaillie male’s light-colored beak and red spots over its eyes stand out from the otherwise dark coloring. Females are much smaller than the males and they are brownish in color.
Western capercaillies occur in most parts of the northern Europe and northern Asia. As its habitat it prefers untouched old coniferous forests. Especially open pine forest with some small areas of marshland vegetation are popular habitats for the species. Western capercaillies habitat requirements change during the year. During the winter it eats mostly pine needles. Western capercaillie feeds on the same specific pine trees for the whole winter. It favors damaged or slowly growing pines.
In spring the male capercaillies gather together in established areas known as leks to perform a group courtship display. The courtship display sites are quite large in area and enough mature forest must be found in the area. New leks have been established also in youngish thinned pine forests. Suitable areas for the nesting and growing of the chicks are spruce bogs and the border areas between bogs and peaty forests where there are enough insects to feed the chicks.
In the Finnish folk myths, the western capercaillie is associated with fairies and witches and other spellweavers, who could take the form of capercaillie. It was believed that the capercaillie appearing in the yard predicted death.
Broadleave mix in coniferous forests and undergrowth offers capercaillie protection and food. Thickets left for the game species offer capercaillie safe resting places. Precise mapping of the capercaillies leks is important and mapped leks are taken in to account in forestry planning. Regeneration cuttings in the areas belonging to leks must be done little by little so that the environment doesn’t chance too fast for the capercaillies. Thinnings can be done normally because it prevents forests from becoming too dense for the capercaillies to live in them.
|wood||deadwood||stage of development||key biotopes|