Lagopus lagopus subsp. hibernicus | Cearc fhraoigh



Conservation status

This species is Red-listed according to Birds of Conservation Concern in Ireland 2020-2026 and is of high conservation value as a result.

The Willow Grouse (Lagopus lagopus), of which the Red Grouse is a subspecies of, was classified as ‘Vulnerable’ on a European scale according to the latest IUCN Red List report in 2015. Additionally, the population trend was shown to be decreasing. 

Species Biology


The Red Grouse is a medium-sized game bird with a round body and wings and thick feathered legs.

It gets its name from its red-brown body and the characteristic bright red eyebrow in males.

Sexual dimorphism can be seen in this species with the male having a deeper red coloured body with the afore-mentioned bright red eyebrow in breeding season, while the females are lighter in colour.

The feathers on both sexes have dark markings throughout, breaking up the red-brown body and perhaps allowing them to hide easier. This is vital as they are a ground bird for the most part and tend not to fly unless startled.

The Red Grouse stands at a length of approximately 37-42 cm in length with a wingspan of 55-66 cm. Their weight can range from 600-750 grams. 


The Red Grouse feeds mainly on heather all year round but will feed on plant material such as leaves, shoots and berries as well as some invertebrates such as insects. 


The Red Grouse will be found in extensive areas of blanket bog and upland habitats with adequate stands of heather for feeding.


The Red Grouse will lay a clutch of 6-9 eggs on the ground and will incubate them for a period of 19-25 days. These eggs will weigh approximately 21.5 grams.

The young will fledge after 12-13 days.

A wild Red Grouse has an average life expectancy of two years and will be of breeding age after the first year. 


World distribution(GBIF)

Irish distribution

The Red Grouse is a sedentary ground nesting bird and typically stays in its habitat unless forced to relocate in harsh winters, for example.

The subspecies Lagopus lagopus hibernicus is endemic to Ireland and has a widespread breeding range on the island but its numbers are quite low nationally.

Red grouse naturally occur in low populations.

Temporal change

Records submitted to Data Centre in 2021

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