Fun Grouse Facts

Grouse are a common bird in parts of the UK but they are little known. Here are a few facts about grouse to get you started:

  • Grouse are a group of birds from the order Galliformes. There are many species of grouse worldwide, but only four in the UK. Black Grouse, Capercaille, Ptarmigan and Red Grouse
  • Red Grouse (Lagopus lagopus scotica) are found in heather moorland in the British Isles – they can’t be found anywhere else in the world
  • The Red Grouse is differentiated from the willow ptarmigan and rock ptarmigan by its plumage being reddish brown, and not having a white winter plumage.
  • It is estimated that there are 230,000 breeding pairs of Red Grouse in the UK
  • Red Grouse don’t nest in trees, they are in fact ground nesting birds.
  • Strong father figure – while the female is incubating her eggs in the spring, the male diligently stands guard, he even helps feed and protect their young
  • To ‘grouse’ means to have a moan. We’ve no idea why. (Actually it's probably from a French word...)

Why we need to protect grouse

Driven Grouse Shooting

Grouse are known for being a ‘game’ bird, which along with pheasants and partridges, is a kind of bird used in the shooting industry to be shot for sport. The shooting of red grouse is best known for the Glorious Twelfth, the date in August on which the red grouse driven shooting season starts.

According to industry statistics an estimated 700,000 grouse are shot every year in Britain for ‘sport’ all over the UK. In driven shooting, red grouse are frightened from their heather homes by a line of beaters shouting and stomping to drive them towards eagerly awaiting men with guns. The grouse don’t stand a chance, as it is basically a massacre. Many will not be killed outright, but will be shot and wounded before hurtling to the ground where they will lie maimed, suffering and terrified.

Grouse between bushes with a sunset light

What is the League doing to protect grouse?

  • We are calling for a ban of shooting birds for sport as we believe the massive loss of life does not justify the existence of what is basically a hobby
  • The League jointly launched a government petition in 2016 with Dr Mark Avery and Chris Packham calling for a ban on driven grouse shooting. Due a great deal to our supporters, the petition easily passed the 100,000 signature mark which triggered a debate in Parliament.
  • The debate highlighted how much support there is for shooting among MPs, so we shall continue to educate politicians and the public as to the cruelty and environmental damage connected to this sport.
  • Our campaigns to protect red grouse have included the Inglorious Menu, which highlights how many other birds and animals are killed simply to get a grouse on the menu at a restaurant. These include animals caught in snares and birds of prey shot to stop them from killing the grouse.

How can I help grouse?

  • Write to your MP and express your concern about 'game' bird shooting
  • Join one of our supporter groups to help us raise awareness about driven grouse shooting 
  • Share this page on your social media


Find out more

  • Check out more information on our shooting page