The Hazel Grouse or Hazel Hen is one of the smaller members of the grouse family of birds. It is a sedentary species, breeding across northern Eurasia as far east as Hokkaido, and as far west as central and eastern Europe, in dense, damp, mixed coniferous woodland, preferably with some spruce.
The nest is on the ground, and 3–6 eggs is the normal clutch size. The female takes all responsibility for incubating the eggs and caring for the chicks, as is typical with gamebirds.
This is a relatively small grouse at 35–39 centimetres (14–15 in) length. The plumage of this plump bird is finely patterned, but Hazel Grouse essentially has grey upperparts, brown wings and chestnut flecked white underparts.
The male has a short erectile crest and a white-bordered black throat. The female has a shorter crest and lacks the black throat. In flight, this species shows a black-tipped grey tail.
The male has a high-pitched ti-ti-ti-ti-ti call, and the female a liquid tettettettettet. The calls, or the burr of the flying birds' wings, are often the only indication of this grouse's presence, since its shyness and dense woodland habitat make it difficult to see.
This bird feeds on the ground, taking mainly plant food, supplemented by insects when breeding.