In Search of Black-billed Capercaillie in Terelj NP | Bird Mongolia

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We have been searching Black-billed Capercaillie for three times to Terelj National Park of Mongolia to photograph this least seen forest beauty. Black-billed Capercaillie is a large bird, inhabitant of northern forests of Mongolia, Russian Taiga and north China. It is considered that Black-billed Capercaillie is closely related to the Western Capercaillie and the two species probably separated during the Ice Ages. Depending on their range area, Black-billed Capercaillie has two subspecies, T.u. stegmanni is found in Mongolia, Lake Baikal and Sayan Mountains. It is slimmer and with larger tail. It has larger white spots on undertail-coverts. T.u. kamtschaticus is found in Kamchatka.



SCIENTIFIC NAME: Tetrao parvirostris

COMMON NAME: Black-billed Capercaillie 




RANGE: Mongolia, Russia, China 

DIET: Plants, Caterpillars, Ant eggs

LIFESPAN: 6,4 years

HEIGHT:  M: 89-97cm – F: 69-75cm

WEIGHT: M: 3350-4580g – F: 1700-2200g

Fact Resource:


We have searched Black-billed Capercaillie for the third time and two of the trips were successfully done. In the last weekend during our  Nature Getaways | Weekend Birding Trip, we found this shy and least seen bird in Terelj NP and luckily got this iconic male one, even the breeding season is over. 

Black-billed Capercaillie (Tetrao urogalloides). Adult male in Terelj NP of Mongolia. Photo by © Batzaya Choijiljav | Bird Mongolia

On our previous trip in 2019, in mid-May, we got this beautiful female one. During the breeding season ( mid-April to May) the males display in the early morning, coming from their resting trees. They fly down to the ground and sing continuously for several hours, with some short pauses in the lek area. The females visit these territories and chose a mate.

Black-billed Capercaillie (Tetrao urogalloides). Adult female laying her eggs in Terelj NP of Mongolia. Photo by © Iderbat Enkhtaivan | Bird Mongolia

The female leaves the lek after the copulation. She selects the nest-site and builds the nest on the ground, It is placed under low branches of fallen tree. She lays 6-7 eggs and incubates them for 20-25 days in June. She remains motionless on the eggs, to take advantage of her cryptic plumage coloration. At this period, she is vulnerable to predation by mammals and birds, involving sometimes nest failure. At hatching, the downy chicks have rufous crown patch. About  2-3 weeks after the hatching, the young ones can follow the mother, and are able to fly. 

During winter time, they forage in flocks, but the males are mostly in small groups of 2-4 birds, whereas the females are more numerous, between 2 and 14 individuals.

Population of Black-billed Capercaillie’s population is declining by natural fluctuations and human activities. There are no estimated number of Individuals, but currently, the Black-billed Capercaillie is evaluated as Least Concern.

For the next time we go on photographic trip to the other locations that can be seen on the range map. If you are interested in our birding adventure to search and photograph this iconic bird in Mongolia, please check out the following tours that we arrange.