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Ruffed grouse are about the size of a small chicken and come in two color morphs, red/brown and gray. Overall, the color is a heavily patterned gray/brown with barring on the breast. The flanks and sides are light colored. The ruffs for which this bird is named are the dark spots at the base of the neck. These can be fluffed out during displays. The adults have a small crest they raise when they are aroused or alarmed (which can be seen in the photo above). They are well-camouflaged and often surprise predators by flushing from hiding places at close range and with a loud thumping of their wings. In spring and fall the males "drum" using their wings to trap air against their bodies and causing a loud drumbeat that increases in tempo.
Mixed and hardwood forests, primarily younger forests with shrubby underbrush and thickets.