Red grouse

Red grouse

©Margaret Holland

Red grouse

Scientific name: Lagopus lagopus
The red grouse is an umistakeable bird - plump and round, with a gingery-red body as its name suggests. Found on upland heathlands, it is under threat from the nationwide, dramatic loss of these habitats.

Species information


Length: 40-43cm
Weight: 600g
Average lifespan: est. 2-7 years

Conservation status

Classified in the UK as Amber under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2015). Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework.

When to see

January to December


The red grouse is a plump bird about the same size and shape as a grey partridge. It feeds on heather and can be found on upland heathlands and moorland - it's often spotted as it's flushed from the heather, suddenly flying upwards with rapid, whirring wingbeats. There are actually two subspecies of red grouse: Lagopus lagopus scotia (the red grouse of the British Isles) and Lagopus lagopus lagopus (the willow grouse of Scandinavia and Alaska).

How to identify

The red grouse is a plump bird with a rich, gingery-brown body, short, black tail and red 'eyebrows'.


Found in North and South West England, Wales and Scotland.

Did you know?

The red grouse is the 'Famous Grouse' that appears on whisky bottles. The grouse brand was born in 1896 in Scotland and deliberately named after an iconic Scottish bird. But it was the popularity of it that inspired the makers to add 'Famous' to the title.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts are working to restore and protect our heathlands by promoting good management, clearing encroaching scrub and implementing beneficial grazing regimes. This work is vital if these habitats are to survive; you can help by supporting your local Wildlife Trust and becoming a member or volunteer.