The Gall Fer or Capercaillie is an animal that not only lives in our Pyrenees, but also in the Cantabrian coast and other regions of Europe such as Scandinavia. Depending on the region it will belong to a different subspecies.
We have chosen it as a symbol of our brand of ski socks, since it is a representative species of the forests in our territory, which demonstrates our commitment to it. On the other hand, it is a protected species, and we wanted to raise awareness of its danger.
They like to live in cold, high mountain regions , with clear forests, lots of vegetation, water, and berries. In the past, during the glaciations, its habitat was much wider, but over time and the increase in temperature it concentrated its population.
He is usually shy, he tries to hide from everyone, something he does even more in winter. During this time it can only feed on the small shoots of the pine trees, so any extra effort made to flee from a predator or a human being can lead to death by exhaustion.
One of its main characteristics is that it has a seasonal diet , so its diet varies throughout the year depending on the available resources. In winter it eats shoots of trees such as those of the pine. In spring it feeds on beech shoots and grass. In summer it resorts to acorns, ant larvae, lizards and even snakes. Finally, during the fall he eats mainly blueberries.
Why he is in danger?
Although it has been protected in Spain since 1986 , its population has not increased significantly. This is due to the dangers that directly or indirectly affect their habitat, these are:
- Forest densification : Many of the traditional activities to maintain forests have been lost, giving way to this problem.
- Deforestation : occurs when the trees it feeds on have been cut down and are no longer abundant in its area.
- Urbanism : the gall fer makes very short and low-altitude flights, so the construction of a fence or the clearing of land can seriously hinder its movement and consequently its reproductive capacity.
- Human activities : to reproduce it needs a lot of calm, which can be easily altered by hiking, mountaineering, skiing...
On the other hand, their reproductive method is also not very efficient. The heat lasts from March to early May. Males make claim calls from a high point to attract females. They lay between five and twelve eggs, which they bury in the ground, making them easy victims of other predators. In addition, during the first weeks mortality is very high, causing a slow increase in the population .
How can we help?
During the winter we should avoid going through the woods. The practice of skiing and snowshoeing must be done on the marked slopes , thus avoiding possible encounters.
In the spring , the capercaillie is in heat, so in the morning they sing. If we are going to look for mushrooms such as morcella (múrgola), we must go after noon , and in this way, not disturb it during reproduction.
Between May and June, if we go on an excursion , whether on foot, by bicycle or on horseback, we must go along the marked paths so as not to disturb it. During this time the female lays her eggs, but she can abandon them if she feels in a dangerous situation.
The Capercaillie perceives dogs as predators , so they must be kept on a leash during any season of the year.
In the following links you can find more information: