Red grouse

Large parts of the Scottish uplands are managed for red grouse as grouse shooting contributes significantly to our rural economy.

The red grouse (Lagopus lagopus) is a medium-sized brown bird with red ‘eyebrows’. An adult is typically about 40cm in length with a 60cm wingspan, and weighs around 600g. Its Latin name translates as ‘hare foot’, an apt description.

Male Red Grouse on a grassy hillside.
Male Red Grouse (lagopus lagopus scoticus)

Red grouse are the fastest-flying game birds in the UK, which makes hunting them a challenge – and is often cited as part of the appeal of this recreational activity. Grouse shooting is worth an estimated £30 million a year to Scotland’s economy.

Red grouse have a range of 16 calls, the most familiar of which sounds to people like, “Go-back, go-back, go-back!” followed by a chuckle. Muirburn is used to manage grouse moors, to provide grouse with a mosaic of young plants and shoots for food, and taller plants for shelter. This leads to the ‘patchwork’ effect seen on many upland hillsides in Scotland.

Protection of red grouse

Find out how Scotland’s wild birds are protected.

Learn about birds and licensing.

Read our guidance for planners and developers on protected animals.

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