This medium-sized game bird can easily be mistaken for a willow ptarmigan during the summer months. While both the male spruce grouse and willow ptarmigan possess the distinct red mark above the eye, spruce grouse males are more boldly marked with black and white patches along their neck and breast.
This forager feeds mostly on pine and spruce needles and some insects. Like many other birds, the spruce grouse has a crop in which they can store food for later digestion. Spruce grouse can store up to 10 percent of their body weight in their crop. During the harsh winter, the digestive tract becomes larger for faster food processing to stay warm and maintain weight.