Here’s a grouse I’d never seen before! I grew up with partridges (ruffed grouse) all around, but in Wyoming there were Sage Grouse AND dusky grouse. I saw all of them, but this was the hardest one to find and the grouse species I only saw once in the 365 days I lived in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Dusky Grouse (2)

I was hiking in an area on the northern side of Grand Teton National Park when I saw a male grouse, tail feathers erect, walking on the trail in front of me.

Dusky Grouse (1)

It was like no grouse I had ever seen–about the same size as a “typical grouse” (though apparently the third largest grouse in North America, after the two species of Sage Grouse), but with a pair of goofy orange clown-eyebrows

Dusky Grouse (3)

This dusky grouse continued walking near the trail, looking startled but still focusing on its food mission, plucking the various flowers from their colorful carpet.

Dusky Grouse (4)

He was then joined by a mule deer who had a similar goal and a similar trepidation.

Mule Deer

Dusky grouse (formerly called blue grouse) live in dry grasslands, shrublands, and forests of parts of western North America. In the winter they eat conifer needles, but in the summer their diet ranges from insects to miscellaneous plants.