Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
STATUS: Uncommon in most of the southern portions of its range.
HABITAT: Inhabits short-needled coniferous forests, especially where living branches reach the ground and where there are numerous, scattered forest openings of a few hundred square feet. In the northeast, prefers wet lowland edges; farther west, prefers higher ground. Generally prefers a mixture of jack pine or lodgepole pine and spruce, and a sparse ground cover. Males establish breeding territories in dense pine stands. Shows little fear of humans and often called "fool hen."
SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Large tracts of coniferous forest.
NEST: Nests on the ground in well-concealed sites, often under low branches of spruce, jack pine, or white pine; in brush; in deep moss; or adjacent to a tree trunk or stump.
FOOD: During winter, consumes diet of nearly 100 percent conifer needles. In other seasons, consumes a variety of foods, including leaves, flowers, berries, seeds, pine needles, and a few insects. Needs a source of fine, mineral-rich gravel.
REFERENCES: Johnsgard 1973, Pendergast and Boag 1970, Robinson 1969, 1980, Robinson in Farrand 1983a.