Ruffed Grouse

Bonasa umbellus

Summary goeIt’s early morning in the springtime in the woods and you hear rustling and feel a booming vibe through the air. It is a difficult sound to locate; it moves quickly and eludes you. Welcome to the drama of the mating ritual of the male ruffed grouse, known as the ‘drummer in the woods.’ With claws tightly gripped on the drumming stage, they beat their wings about 50 times in 10 seconds creating miniature sonic booms and a drumming sound which can sound like an engine starting…


Generally, male and female ruffed grouse look similar. They both are shades of brown or grey, have feathers on their legs, feathers extending down their beak (to cover their nostrils to warm cold air before breathing it in), have a brown or black “ruff” of feathers around their necks and a matching dark band stripe across the end of their tail feathers. Upon closer inspection however, the band of color on the two central tail feathers of the female will be “blurred” looking, while the males will be solid in color…

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