Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) - Wiki
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[Photo] Photo of ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus), taken in Wisconsin by the late outdoor writer Don L. Johnson.
The Ruffed Grouse, Bonasa umbellus, is a medium-sized grouse occurring in forests across Canada and the Appalachian Mountains and northern United States including Alaska. It is non-migratory.
The Ruffed Grouse is frequently called the “partridge.” This leads to confusion with the Grey Partridge, which was introduced to Canada from Europe. The Ruffed Grouse is only distantly related to the Grey Partridge, which is a bird of open areas, not woodlands.
Ruffed Grouse have two distinct color phases, gray and red. In the gray phase, adults have a long square brownish tail with barring and a black band near the end ("subterminal"). The head, neck and back are gray-brown; the breast is light with barring. The ruffs are on the sides of the neck. These birds also have a crest on top of their head, which sometimes lies flat. Both sexes are similarly marked and sized, making them difficult to tell apart, even in hand. The female often has a broken subterminal tail band, while males often have unbroken tail bands. Another fairly accurate sign is that rump feathers with a single white dot indicate a female; rump feathers with more than one white dot indicate a male.
Ruffed Grouse have never been successfully bred in captivity.
These birds forage on the ground or in trees. They are omnivores, eating buds, leaves, berries, seeds, and insects. According to Don L. Johnson, "More than any other characteristic, it is the ruffed grouse's ability to thrive on a wide range of foods that has allowed it to adapt to such a wide and varied range of habitat on this continent. A complete menu of grouse fare might itself fill a book...One grouse crop yielded a live salamander in a salad of watercress. Another contained a small snake."
In spring, males attract females by drumming, beating their wings loudly, often while on a fallen log. Females nest on the ground, typically laying 6???8 eggs. Grouse spend most of their time on the ground, and when surprised, may explode into flight, beating their wings very loudly.
The Ruffed Grouse is the state bird of Pennsylvania.
Ruffed Grouse are hunted across their entire range. Population densities across the continent have declined severely in recent decades, primarily due to habitat loss. Many states in the U.S. have open Grouse hunting seasons that run from September through January, but hunting is not considered to be a significant contributing factor in the population decline.
Ruffed Grouse are pursued by hunters both with and without the aid of dogs, and in most states are taken legally with shotguns rifles or pistols or through falconry.
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