Tim writes: I haven’t seen a great many Capercaillies, and most of my sightings have been fleeting glimpses of birds disappearing into the forest. But this Capercaillie was different. This was one of those so-called rogue male Capercaillies that was pumped full of testosterone and ready for a fight. I had to get down low to get this point of view, and as soon as I was lower than the bird he took his advantage and attacked me. He clawed and pecked and clattered me with his wings, but it was still one of my most exciting and memorable wildlife experiences ever.
The name is a corruption of the Gaelic “capull coille” which translates as horse of the woods. The horse part comes from its display call which with a series of slowly accelerating mechanical tickup notes followed by a sound a bit like the whinneying of a horse, climaxed with a pop like a champagne cork going off. It became extinct in Scotland as a truly native species during the seventeenth century but was successfuly reintroduced into Caledonian pine forests in 1830. British authors did not like the gaelic name so most early works call it Wood Grouse, But after its reintroduction the gaelic name Capercaillie (or Capercailzie- z is pronounced y) was adopted. I photographed this male in Sweden.