SP now has a fairly well-developed hierarchy of animal albums, but the bird albums consist of a few albums with too many photos to be useful. The idea behind this album is to start sorting mountain birds by family, as an aid to identification as well as for entertainment purposes.
The Grouse Family
This family consists of grouses, prairie-chickens, and ptarmigans. You can get the full list of species at wikipedia
. The family belongs to the order Galliformes, which includes turkeys, quail, domestic poultry, pheasants, and other birds that look fairly similar to the grouse.
All of the grouses have double feathers for insulation and feathered feet. Ptarmigans even have feathered toes. Most species have interesting courtship rituals and can make booming or stomping sounds that carry a good distance.
In North America, grouses tend to live in colder regions, in the north and/or higher-elevation habitats. They are generalists and have varied diets, helping them survive in these harsher environments.
Most species are reasonably abundant. Because they, uh, taste like chicken, many are often popular game species. A few are threatened or endangered, however.
Blue Grouse on Deer Mountain
The spruce grouse is found throughout Canada and Alaska, with a small population in the Pacific Northwest. The blue grouse is found in the Sierras, Coast Range and Rockies almost to the Mexican border. The ruffed grouse is the most widespread, found around the Great Lakes, the west coast, northern Rockies, the Appalachians, and throughout the northeastern US.
Prairie chickens and the sharp-tailed grouse live in much-restricted ranges on the Great Plains. The sage grouse lives in the sagebrush country of the intermountain West.
North America has three species of ptarmigans: willow, rock, and white-tailed. The first two are found only in the Arctic. White-tailed ptarmigans are locally abundant in the high country of Colorado, Glacier NP, and the Cascades. There are small reintroduced populations in the Sierra Nevadas and Uintas.
I should note that those descriptions of grouse ranges are very approximate. Wyoming, with plains, higher elevation sagebrush, and high mountains, is home to most grouse and prairie chicken species but the exact range of each depends heavily on elevation.