Difference Between Pheasant and Grouse

Pheasant vs Grouse

It would be very easy for anyone with an average knowledge and experience to mix up a pheasant with a grouse. That is because the characteristics are very similar between these two, as they both belong to the same taxonomic order and family. Therefore, one should understand the characteristics of each carefully for a proper clarification. This article discusses the basic and important information about pheasant and grouse and presents a comparison at the end.


Pheasants are Galliformes birds of the Family: Pheasianidae and the Subfamily: Phasianinae. There are almost 40 species of extant pheasant species in the world. Pheasants vary from 60 to 90 centimetres in body lengths, and the average bodyweight is 1.2 kilograms for the males. The females are smaller and lighter than the males. In addition, the male pheasants are brightly coloured with more contrasting features viz. wattles and long tails. On the other hand, the females are dull coloured without much show-off features. Their feeding habits are omnivorous with the diets contain seeds and small invertebrates. Their head is usually bottle green in colour with a small crest being present. In addition, the bright gold and brown plumages are decorated with many colour combinations including green, purple, and white. However, the body colourations differ among the different species of this highly diversified group of birds.


Grouse are Galliformes birds of the Family: Pheasianidae and the Subfamily: Tetraoninae, but some scientists categorize them in a separate taxonomic family called Tetraonidae. They prefer the temperate and subarctic cold climates of the Northern hemisphere. Their habitats include the pine forests as well as the moorland and mountainsides. There are more than 20 different species with many subspecies of grouse. Grouse are more like domestic chickens in body forms, but the sizes vary from 30 to 90 centimetres in total body length, and the bodyweights also vary from 300 grams to 6.4 kilograms accordingly. They are sexually dimorphic with males being large as twice as females. In addition, the body colourations are prominent in males to attract females during reproductive periods. The general colourations include shaded brown, grey, and red in many species but the colouration patterns vary among species. Unlike many other bird species, grouse males are polygamous and have many female mating partners. These heavily built birds have feathers on their nostrils, legs, and toes, as well. Therefore, the extreme cold conditions could be tolerated without many problems. In addition, they grow more feathers during wintertime. Grouse are not specialised feeders, but they can shift their feeding preferences according to the availability that usually varies with the seasons. The migratory grouse species such as Ptarmigan would move into food abundant areas during winter.


What is the difference between Pheasant and Grouse?

• Both being classified under the same family, but the subfamilies are different between pheasant and grouse.

• The taxonomic diversity of pheasants (about 40 species) is higher than the grouse diversity (more than 20 species).

• Grouse are usually larger than pheasants. However, the grouse have the wider spectrum of body sizes and weights compared to pheasants.

• Pheasants have more colourful plumage than grouse.

• The feathers are longer in pheasants than in grouse.

• Grouse have the denser feather cover compared to grouse. Therefore, grouse could be considered as the more adapted group to live under cold climates but not the pheasant.

• Grouse are generalised herbivores while pheasants are omnivorous in food habits.