The Ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus) is the most widely distributed game bird in North America. The Ruffed grouse is sometimes incorrectly referred to as a "partridge", an unrelated phasianid, and occasionally confused with the Grey partridge, a bird of open areas rather than woodlands.
Diurnal animals are active during the daytime, with a period of sleeping or other inactivity at night. The timing of activity by an animal depends ...
An omnivore is an animal that has the ability to eat and survive on both plant and animal matter. Obtaining energy and nutrients from plant and ani...
Terrestrial animals are animals that live predominantly or entirely on land (e.g., cats, ants, snails), as compared with aquatic animals, which liv...
Precocial species are those in which the young are relatively mature and mobile from the moment of birth or hatching. Precocial species are normall...
Arboreal locomotion is the locomotion of animals in trees. In habitats in which trees are present, animals have evolved to move in them. Some anima...
Oviparous animals are female animals that lay their eggs, with little or no other embryonic development within the mother. This is the reproductive...
A burrow is a hole or tunnel excavated into the ground by an animal to create a space suitable for habitation, temporary refuge, or as a byproduct ...
Polygyny is a mating system in which one male lives and mates with multiple females but each female only mates with a single male.
Generally solitary animals are those animals that spend their time separately but will gather at foraging areas or sleep in the same location or sh...
NoNot a migrant
Animals that do not make seasonal movements and stay in their native home ranges all year round are called not migrants or residents.
Ruffed grouse have two distinct morphs: grey and brown. In the grey morph, the head, neck, and back are grey-brown; the breast is light with barring. There is much white on the underside and flanks, and overall the birds have a variegated appearance; the throat is often distinctly lighter. The tail is essentially the same brownish grey, with regular barring and a broad black band near the end ("subterminal"). Brown-morph birds have tails of the same color and pattern, but the rest of the plumage is much more brown, giving the appearance of a more uniform bird with less light plumage below and a conspicuously grey tail. Both males and females have ruffs on the sides of the neck. They also have a crest on top of their head, which sometimes lies flat.
Ruffed grouse are found in Canada and the United States occurring from the Appalachian Mountains across Canada to Alaska. They inhabit the boreal forest, deciduous and mixed forests rich in aspen and brushy areas.
Ruffed grouse are non-migratory and spend most of their time quietly on the ground. When surprised, they may explode into flight, beating their wings very loudly. In the winter, they will burrow into the snow for warmth, and may suddenly burst out of the snow when approached too closely. When alarmed a female with chicks will make a clucking or whining sound. These birds also communicate with each other using hissing, chirping, and peeping sounds. Ruffed grouse are generally solitary but may gather in small groups at good feeding spots. They are generally active during the day and can be frequently seen foraging along road beds during early morning and late afternoon.
Ruffed grouse are polygynous; they don't form pairs and males may mate with several females during the breeding season. Ruffed grouse differ from other grouse species in their courtship display. They rely entirely on a non-vocal acoustic display, known as drumming. The drumming itself is a rapid, wing-beating display that creates a low-frequency sound, starting slow and speeding up (thump ... thump ... thump..thump-thump-thump-thump). Males perform drumming on a raised platform such as a fallen log, puffing out their feathers, fanning their tails, and showing their ruffs. The female builds a bowl-shaped nest of leaves on the forest floor, often at the base of a tree or a large log. She lays 9-14 whitish eggs usually in late-May-early June. The incubation period lasts around 23-24 days. Chicks are precocial; they hatch with eyes open and are covered in sandy to brown down. They are able to walk themselves shortly after hatching and follow their mother to feeding sites where the chicks feed themselves. The young fledge at 10-12 days after hatching and become reproductively mature at one year old.
Ruffed grouse don't face major threats at present, although their populations are declining due to habitat loss. These birds are also frequently hunted for sport.
According to the All About Birds resource, the breeding population of the Ruffed grouse is around 18 million birds. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List, but its numbers today are decreasing.