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Western Capercaillie - Life

The courting season of Western Capercaillie starts between March and early May on the so-called courting grounds usually in clearings or forest margins. At the sunset, several cocks and hens arrive at the courting ground. The courting begins at the beginning of dawn. The cock starts its song given in a display and repeats it several times. Similarly to a peacock, it postures himself with raised and fanned tail feathers, his head erect and turned. The other cocks nearby often get into fight. According to gamekeepers, the courting song has 4 phases: a series of double-clicks like a dropping ping-pong ball which gradually accelerate into a trill and subsequent popping sound like a cork coming of a champagne bottle followed by scraping sounds. The scraping reminds a scythe whetting and takes two to three minutes. It is at this moment that the cock loses hearing, partly for the noise it is making, partly for its desire. (Hence the species name.) In the past, these moments of deafness would become fatal for the cock. Hunters would use it to get closer to the cock and shoot it dead unless a hen had warned it in time. Such way of hunting was surely a real sports and strategic performance. Today we would assign it to an adrenaline sport.

Courting usually begins in crowns of trees. Only then gets the cock down the tree to copulate the hen. The level of testosterone during copulation increases a hundred times. This is why the cocks are extremely aggressive at this time of the year. Some individuals even attack humans who stepped into their territory.

The courting song can be heard from a short distance (150 – 200 m). Anyway, it is a unique experience to hear and see the courting song and dance. It is said that the courting gave rise to a folks dance called Schuhplattler, or formerly Balztanz.

Capercaillies move on the ground most of the time. They fly short distances. Their flight looks somewhat ponderous and clumsy and is quite noisy. Capercaillies sometimes search for food in trees where they sleep. The species living in our lands are not migratory and over winter.

There may be one to seven cocks in Šumava courting grounds (the long-term average is 1.29). The beginning of courting is not precisely given, it usually begins in early March. The last courting, though, is always the same – the last week in May (on average the first courting begins on 24.3. and last one begins on 24.5.). According to monitoring done between the 5.5. and 18.6., the clutch would contain 6 – 10 eggs. As the female sits on its eggs for 28 days, the first chicks in Šumava can be hatched shortly after 15.6. The best habitat for life and reproduction of capercaillie populations in Železná Ruda region is in areas of Jezerní hory, Svaroh, Ostrý and Lomniček. Except for breeding season, capercaillies can be seen in the sites around Špičák, Pancíř or Můstek Hills. Other individuals were spotted in Kochánovské pláně and here in Debrnické hornatiny. The estimated number of capercaillie species is about one hundred.

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GPS position

N 49° 7.067', E 13° 18.081'
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Contact

ECHOS o.s.
Milan Kříž
Tel.:602646780
http://kriz@zeleznaruda.cz