The Sallandse Heuvelrug National Park is the only place in the Netherlands where they can still be seen. Thanks to the sheltered slopes with expansive heathland. Thanks to the raised bogs and the lush vegetation with berries. But things do not come naturally, even here. Every year, about 25 animals are brought to the Sallandse Heuvelrug from Sweden. Does it work? Will they make it? Time will tell.
Everyone is talking about it on the Sallandse Heuvelrug. But you’re not alone if you are not sure what a black grouse looks like. After all, they are rare. This wasn’t always the case. Its Scottish cousin has been used as the symbol of whisky brand Famous Grouse since 1896. In southern Germany, there is still a dance called the ‘Schuhplattler’, a dance inspired by the mating behaviour of black grouse.
Black grouse are beautiful birds. In the evening, sitting in a tree, they look like overgrown buzzards. They belong to the pheasant family and are also called greyhens or greycocks. The elaborate mating ritual starts in spring. The black grouse, with spread tailfeather, gather at fixed locations and look around with their heads held high in the air. Fluttering and hissing everywhere. Completely excessive, but super romantic.
Despite the impressive mating ritual, the black grouse population is not doing well - and this is true for the Sallandse Heuvelrug as well. Fragmentation of heathland and raised bogs are to blame. Drying-out of the soil and acidification are reducing the number of flowers and insects, which is exactly what the chicks need to survive. Their parents often perish at the hands of hunters such as martens and foxes. The fact that black grouse cannot be reintroduced adds an extra complication. If an area is without black grouse, new grouse will not settle. There should be an existing local population for new grouse to succeed.
Would you like to find out more about black grouse, its biotope and its survival? The diorama on top of the mountain showcases a lifelike exhibition about these special animals and the diorama team would be happy to tell you all about them.