Grouse in the Rough

Winter has lingered well past its best-before date. Snow still drapes across fallen logs and clumps of moss in the woods. In our yard, on the other hand, green shoots are popping up, offering a fresh salad for the picking. A few insects and spiders add extra protein.

Which probably explains why a female ruffed grouse has moved from there into our yard. In fact she has become quite tolerant of me and the camera.

Although sometimes described as a lunchbox on legs — presumably because they make an easy meal for predators — grouse are surprisingly good at blending into their surroundings

Female ruffed grouse
Mottled feathers provide good camouflage

Sudden movement, a loud sound, in fact anything “unusual” in their world causes grouse to freeze. That’s fine if you’re among trees or bushes where you can disappear into the background. Not so good if you’re in the middle of the road and rubber is heading your way.

Ruffed
Perhaps she’ll nest nearby

While I was photographing this grouse today I could hear a male drumming in the woods, his way of attracting a mate. The female, however, seemed oblivious to his come-hither call. In fact, she lay down beneath the saskatoon bush and took a nap. Maybe she’s playing hard to get. 🙂


Ruffed grouse   Bonasa umbellus

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