A male sharp-tailed grouse struts his stuff at dawn on the Charlie Russell National Wildlife Refuge, in eastern Montana. This native bird is listed as a "Species of Concern" in Montana.
Spruce grouse are often associated with dense spruce/fir forests. But in western Montana, they are often tied to moist sites dominated by lodgepole pine and Douglas fir. As seral tree species, these forests burn fairly often. So the local grouse populations can shift dramatically, moving out of burned habitats and into middle aged forests.
The dashing, male Spruce Grouse has bright red combs above each eye but, unlike our other grouse, he has no throat patch to impress the hens with in spring. Their diet consists of mostly spruce and pine needles. Because they have to eat so many more needles in winter, their digestive tract elongates by almost 40%, then shrinks back to normal length in spring.