Cock of the Walk

I spotted a female grouse ambling through the woods the other day. Not far away I heard a male drumming his come-hither-darling call to any females in the neighbourhood.

I decided to follow her. Creeping over dried leaves, twigs and branches is noisy business but the crunching and crackling didn’t seem to bother her. I wondered if she was the one who has been frequenting our yard.

Just then the drummer caught sight of her and he trotted after her in pursuit, his tail fanned out like a peacock, his gorgeous ruff fluffed to its fullest. This handsome lad had love on his mind.

She flew into a tree. He stopped and turned to give her the benefit of what he had to offer.

Showing off

Meanwhile I stumbled around for a better angle, sure that one or the other would leave. Nope. His feet were definitely planted on the road to love and she was quite happy several feet up the tree.

A come-hither look

After several minutes of his look-into-my-eyes-my-darling routine, she had enough. She leapt off the branch and flew further into the woods.

Undeterred he followed.

Walking grouse

The three of us were heading into more deadfall — the two with feathers were more adept than I at maneuvering the jumble of logs and limbs. I heard a flap of wings ahead and a blur through the trees. She was gone. Again.

This time when a branch snapped beneath my feet, the male turned to look. What expression did I read there? Fickle female? Better luck next time? How could she refuse my offer?

No luck this time

I discretely retreated.


Ruffed grouse   Bonasa umbellus

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13 thoughts on “Cock of the Walk

      1. 🙂 I have a frog in my garden that is exactly the same. For almost 2 months it has croaked by my pond night and day, and just can’t get the attention to give the attention! 🙂

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  1. You may not have many flowers yet but wow, that is an experience that many would envy. It’s funny how sometimes the drive to mate supercedes all reason, right? He just needed to connect with her! This is so well written and the photos are great, especially that first one!

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    1. I’ve been back again and finally got some neat pics of him drumming. He knows I’m there but doesn’t show any sign of stress or nervousness. Quite the dude!

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      1. I try very hard not to intrude into wild lives. If there is any sign of discomfort or unease I back off. Many years ago we had several grouse around our place, then nothing. Not even drumming. That may have been due to an uptick in coyotes and foxes. Something has changed this spring as we have grouse in the yard and the surrounding woods in larger numbers that I can recall.

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  2. That’s interesting about the changes, and I respect your desire to refrain from interfering and disturbing – admirable. We are putting more and more pressure on wildlife, in ways we don’t even know. Might as well try to keep from upsetting the balance when we can.

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      1. Thanks Sally – I hope the movement towards ethical photography gets more press. The ethics statement was interesting to read – I found myself saying, “Of course!” and “Right” but also, “A little too strict for me” (i.e. never moving anything – I will certainly move a distracting pine needle or twig, or dead branch aside to improve a composition, but I wouldn’t harm anything). Food for thought – and I subscribed!

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      2. I hope the movement catches on too. Like you I may move a spruce cone or a downed limb for a shot or pick rocks from beneath my knees. But I try as much as possible not to disturb the life around me, small or big. It’s a privilege to move about in the wild and I try to leave a spot as I found it.

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