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Temporal range: Early Pliocene to recent
Western capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus)
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Galliformes
Family: Phasianidae
Tribe: Tetraonini
Genus: Tetrao
Linnaeus, 1758
Type species
Tetrao urogallus
Linnaeus, 1758

Tetrao urogalloides
Tetrao urogallus

Tetrao is a genus of birds in the grouse subfamily known as capercaillies. They are some of the largest living grouse. Feathers from the bird were used to create the characteristic hat of the bersaglieri, an Italian ace infantry formation.


The genus Tetrao was introduced in 1758 by the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus in the tenth edition of his Systema Naturae.[1] The genus name is the Latin word for a game bird, probably a black grouse.[2] The black grouse was included by Linnaeus in the genus Tetrao but is now placed in the genus Lyrurus.[1][3] The type species was designated as the western capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) by George Robert Gray in 1840.[4][5]


The genus contains two species:[3]

Genus TetraoLinnaeus, 1758 – two species
Common name Scientific name and subspecies Range Size and ecology IUCN status and estimated population
Western capercaillie


Tetrao urogallus
Linnaeus, 1758

Eight subspecies
  • T. u. cantabricus (Castroviejo, 1967)
  • T. u. aquitanicus (Ingram, 1915)
  • T. u. crassirostris (C.L. Brehm, 1831)
  • T. u. rudolfi (Dombrowski, 1912)
  • T. u. urogallus (Linnaeus, 1758)
  • T. u. karelicus (Lönnberg, 1924)
  • T. u. lonnbergi (Snigirevski, 1957)
  • T. u. pleskei (Stegmann, 1926)
  • T. u. obsoletus (Snigerewski, 1937)
  • T. u. volgensis (Buturlin, 1907)
  • T. u. uralensis (Nazarov, 1886)
  • T. u. taczanowskii (Stejneger, 1885)
Europe to western Russia
Map of range



Black-billed capercaillie

Tetrao urogalloides
Middendorff, 1853

Two subspecies
  • T. u. kamtschaticus (Kittlitz, 1858)
  • T. u. urogalloides (nominate) (Middendorff, 1853)
eastern Russia as well as parts of northern Mongolia and China Size:



The fossil record of this genus is extensive:


  1. ^ a b Linnaeus, Carl (1758). Systema Naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis (in Latin). Vol. 1 (10th ed.). Holmiae (Stockholm): Laurentii Salvii. p. 159.
  2. ^ Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 383. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  3. ^ a b Gill, Frank; Donsker, David; Rasmussen, Pamela, eds. (July 2021). "Pheasants, partridges, francolins". IOC World Bird List Version 11.2. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 23 August 2021.
  4. ^ Gray, George Robert (1840). A List of the Genera of Birds : with an Indication of the Typical Species of Each Genus. London: R. and J.E. Taylor. p. 62.
  5. ^ Peters, James Lee, ed. (1934). Check-List of Birds of the World. Vol. 2. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. p. 24.