Rubenis. Foto: Agris Krusts

European protected bird species, included in the Annex I of the European Union Birds Directive.

Black grouse (Lyrurus tetrix) is a large (chicken size) bird in the grouse family. It is a sedentary species, breeding across northern Eurasia in moorland and bog areas near to woodland, mostly boreal.

The all-black males have distinctive red wattle over the eye and show a striking white stripe along each wing in flight. They have a lyre-shaped tail which is fanned out and raised to show white under-tail feathers when displaying. The smaller grey-brown females have a slightly notched tail. Habitat loss and overgrazing have resulted in severe population declines which make this a Red List species. Positive habitat management is helping them to increase in some areas.

In Europe as well as in Latvia, the Black Grouse is in serious decline. There are several reasons for this. One of them is predators. During the winter a fox may hunt birds in sleep, a marten catches chicks and young birds in the summer. However, the greatest danger comes from people, by causing the disturbance during Black Grouse lekking and chick-rearing time. Black Grouse also get poisons from pesticides, granulated fertilizers and other chemicals used in agriculture. Read more at Birdlife InternationalThe Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.