There are growing concerns about the effects of wind turbines on wildlife. Additional mortality due to collisions with wind turbines has long been recognized as a direct negative effect, but less obvious effects such as changes in behaviour or displacement of disturbance sensitive wildlife are increasingly moving into focus. We combined systematic mapping of habitat structure and species presence before and after turbine-construction at 6 study areas in Germany, Austria and Sweden to study the effects of wind turbine presence on a large forest grouse species: the capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus). We studied effects of wind turbines on the observation density (percent of sampling plots with capercaillie presence per year and study area) and habitat selection. We did not find a significant difference in overall observation densities between turbine and control areas after turbine construction. At the sampling-plot scale, however, selection of habitats affected by wind turbines was reduced, indicating a form of habitat deterioration. This was detectable up to 650 m distance to the turbines, present across all study areas and independent of the structural habitat suitability at the respective site. Our results show that a disturbance-sensitive forest bird species is affected by wind energy development, and that critical-distances should be taken into account when planning wind energy development in grouse habitats.