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Ruffed Grouse

Bonasa umbellus


Ruffed Grouse will frequently seek gravel and clover along road beds during early morning and late afteroon. These areas are good areas to walk during this time to flush birds. Also, grouse use sandy road beds to dust their feathers to rid themselves of skin pests. Dusting sites are visible as areas of disturbed soils with some signs of feathers. Birds will return to these spots during the late afternoon to bathe in dust and also socialize and mate. The Ruffed Grouse population has a cycle, and follows the cycle no matter how much or how little hunting there is. The cycle has puzzled scientists for years, and is simply referred to as the "grouse cycle." Minnesota is the top Ruffed Grouse–producing state in the U.S. It is also the state bird of Pennsylvania.

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Gordon Dietzman
Gordon Dietzman 8 years ago

I just returned from a trip through northern Minnesota and Wisconsin where . I saw a number of these birds. No photos, however, as they were all flying (although that would be an interesting challenge). I suspect that the young males are dispersing right now and they fly until exhausted, fly again, etc. until they find unoccupied territory. In fact, these annual dispersions are termed "crazy flight". Mortality is very high for these young males as they are fleeing areas dominated by more mature males and often end up in marginal habitat or fall prey to predators in their weakened state. As examples of this behavior, my sister once had one crash through a double plate glass window in her farm house hurling glass shards throughout the kitchen and through a doorway into the living room and killing itself in the process. The grouse was killed and no one was injured by flying glass. I had one show up in my backyard in Madison, Wisconsin which was probably 10 km from even marginal ruffed grouse habitat. (These birds rarely fly more than 200 meters in any single flight.) It was so exhausted that it couldn't resist my picking it up to examine it for injuries. Fascinating birds!

alicelongmartin 8 years ago

I just read your information, very eye-opening!

Ashish Nimkar
Ashish Nimkar 8 years ago

Lovely Beautiful one... Nice capture...

MeganM 8 years ago

Thanks for sharing your stories, Gordon! It was a beautiful bird and I could see how they would captivate you at a young age.

Rob, it looks like Ely isn't too far (~60 miles) from Sawbill Canoe Outfitters, where I took this picture. I wish I would have grown up in the North Woods; it's so beautiful!

Gordon Dietzman
Gordon Dietzman 8 years ago

Megan, Ruffed grouse are one of my favorite birds. Love to listen to them drumming in spring (and autumn). One of my favorite memories of a child was walking through the woods, cresting a small rise, and seeing two of these birds strutting in a shallow depression. I remained hidden and they remained unaware of my presence. On one occasion they fed to within a few feet of me. It was one of my earliest wildlife experiences that was independent of adults and I was absolutely captivated. Great photos!

Sachin Zaveri
Sachin Zaveri 8 years ago

nice one,,

alicelongmartin 8 years ago

Nice! What one would expect to see this time of year.

Spotted by

Minnesota, USA

Spotted on Sep 2, 2012
Submitted on Sep 6, 2012

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