Ruffed Grouse (Bonassa umbellus)
|What do ruffed grouse look like?
Grouse come in two different color phases- red and gray. The
grouse found in the Border Country are mostly gray. Their tail
feathers have a black stripe at the end of the feathers with
gray tips. They have black feathers along the sides of their
necks which they can ruff out and a small crest on their head.
Grouse are well camouflaged. This means that their coloring
blends into the surroundings making it difficult to see them
in the woods. Grouse are about the same size as chickens (about
17 inches long).
Click on image to enlarge
What types of sounds do ruffed grouse make?
They do make any loud calls but mother grouse will murmur to her
chicks and grouse will also chirp when startled. The males perform
a wing "song" called drumming which sounds like a motor
starting up from way off in the distance. They do this by flapping
their wings. The males drum to attract females and also to defend
their territory from other males.
What do grouse like to eat?
Ruffed grouse eat leaves, buds, and flowers of trees such as quaking
aspen, birch, and black cherry trees.
Where do grouse live?
Ruffed grouse live in deciduous forests. These forests contain
trees that have leaves which bud in the spring, flower in
the summer and drop off in the fall. Grouse are found throughout
the Border Country as well as in Alaska, Canada, parts of
the Rocky Mountains and in the Appalachian mountains.
Where do grouse like to nest?
Female grouse will select a nest site that is ideally next
to an aspen tree and has a clear view of the surrounding area.
It is important for the mother grouse to be able to see any
predators that might be snooping around. She prefers to be
near an aspen tree so that there is a convenient food supply
that is not too far from the nest.Grouse have between 9-12
buff colored eggs. The young need the protection of bushes
and ground covering to keep them hidden from predators.
Click on photo to enlarge
|Where do grouse nest in the winter?
Grouse bury themselves deep into the snow down long burrows
to stay warm and also to confuse predators. The snow is a good
insulator that keeps them out of the wind and cold. It can be
-30 degrees Farenheit outside and rarely below +20 degrees Farenheit
underneath the snow.
Click on photo to enlarge
What kinds of animals do grouse have to watch out for?
It is not an easy life being a ruffed grouse. They have to be on
guard at all times because there are lots of hungry animals that
would enjoy catching a plump grouse. Wolves, pine martens, and foxes
are all predators of grouse. Grouse also have to be careful of human
hunters in the fall.
Farrand, J. Jr. 1988. An Audobon Handbook: Eastern Birds. McGraw-Hill
Book Company, New York.
Stensaas, M. 1993. Canoe country wildlife: a field guide to the
North Woods and Boundary Waters. Pfeifer- Hamilton, Duluth, MN.
Udvardy, M.D.F. 1977. The Audobon Society field guide to North American
birds: Western region. Alfred A. Knopf, New York.