Bird Bio: Ruffed Grouse PDF Print E-mail
Written by Lisa Duke   
Friday, 26 July 2013 17:13

Ruffed Grouse

This is our resident Ruffed Grouse. She arrived at the Sanctuary in the fall of 2009 and currently resides in the Leslie E. Tassell Pen. When you visit the Sanctuary, she is usually taking a dust bath in the sun or cooling off in the shaded back portion of her enclosure. She loves visitors and is usually very curious about who is looking in her enclosure.

In the wild, Ruffed Grouse live in aspen woodlands and mixed forests with small clearings. They are native to Northern North America, but are very hard to find due to their declining population. The Ruffed Grouse is classified as least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Least concern means that their population was evaluated and found to be at a low risk for extinction presently, but they will be reevaluated in the future. However, their populations in the wild are declining due to the deciduous forests maturing and being fragmented by rural and suburban development. This has left them less shelter to hide from predators and hunt for food. Today their habitats are being closely managed to help raise their population numbers. If you live on property that has a wooded area, you can follow the steps on the Michigan DNR’s website to manage your woods to better suit the natural habitat of the Ruffed Grouse.

The Ruffed Grouse is a shade of brown and gray with white and black spots dispersed on their chest and belly. Their cryptic coloration allows them to blend in with the tree bark and the fallen leaves, making them hard to spot. They also walk very slowly on the forest floors from shrub to shrub hunting for food including: insects, soft fruits, buds, and leaves that they find on the forest floor. This makes them almost impossible to find if you are looking for movement, so if you see one you are very lucky!

Ruffed Grouse Blending in to surroundings

Our Ruffed Grouse blending into her enclosure props

It may be easier to see a Ruffed Grouse during their mating season, or at least hear them. During courtship, the male Ruffed Grouse will drum on a fallen log to attract a female. To watch a cool video of a male Ruffed Grouse drumming click here! The male Ruffed Grouse will often mate with several females during a breeding season and they do not help with the building of the nest or the rearing of the young. The female will build a nest on the ground under the cover of a tree or shrub. Much like chickens and other fowl, once the chicks hatch they can begin feeding on their own when they are only a day old!