Black grouse are typically regarded as birds of early successional forest, either coniferous or birch, and of forest-edge habitats. Following reductions in the extent of natural forests, black grouse are now found in structurally similar habitats, such as mosaics of moorland and heathland, early stages of coniferous plantations, rough grazings and traditionally managed meadows.
Black grouse have been declining throughout virtually all their European range over the last century. In Britain, the decline has been considerable over the last 150 years and the species is now mostly confined to Scotland and north-eastern England, with a small number in Wales. Even where the bird remains, numbers are still declining and an analysis of shooting bags suggests a 90-93% decrease in numbers of black grouse shot in Scotland and northern England since 1900.
Since 1989, we have recorded a halving of the number of black grouse males on leks. The current estimate of the British population is 6,500 lekking males in spring. However, numbers fluctuate annually in relation to variations in breeding success.
The Trust publishes a range of information factsheet to aid black grouse recovery in the uplands. These are available in PDF in our document downloads.