The Western Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) is the world’s largest grouse: some impressive males can weight up to 6.5 kg. A bird of old-growth conifer forests of Northern Europe and Central Asia, two of its southernmost populations are found in the pine forests of the Spanish Pyrenees (where these images were taken) and the Cantabrian mountains. The Cantabrian subspecies (T. u. cantabricus) is the world’s smallest, and in spite of legal protection is critically endangered due to habitat degradation and human disturbance, after decades of excessive hunting.
The Common Quail (Coturnix coturnix) is Europe’s smallest gamebird. In Spain it is mostly a migratory bird, spending the winter in North Africa and the Middle East and returning to the Iberian Peninsula in March. During the breeding season males can be heard calling, but rarely seen, from densely covered grassland and cereal fields. Massive hunting (around 1.3 million quail are shot in Spain every year) and changes in agriculture, with the elimination of fallow fields so crucial for nesting and feeding, are causing an alarming decline in its populations.