Fan-dango

Fandango:
1. a lively Spanish dance for two people, typically accompanied by castanets or tambourine; or,

2. a foolish or useless act or thing.

It started with a thump on the living room window. I knew the sound. Not good. Something had flown into the glass.

I grabbed the camera and went to look. I didn’t see anything at first, then suddenly a male grouse rounded the corner of the deck. He was in full display — his gorgeous blue-black ruff puffed up around his head, his eye combs bright red and his tail feathers fanned out like a peacock. A great idea in the summer when you’re hoping to attract a female’s eye. But in November? In. The. Snow?

He strutted across the deck and onto the ground beneath the window.

Male ruffed grouse

It must have been a female who hit the window. Perhaps to escape his unwanted attention. That’s when I saw the first feathers. I assumed she’s survived the impact as he kept moving along, his eye firmly on his target.

Male ruffed grouse

I caught sight of her for a brief moment, then she disappeared around the corner of the house. He followed …

Male ruffed grouse

… trailing her to the front of the house.

Male and female ruffed grouse

About then one of the four females sitting in the saskatoon bush flew low over their heads and into a spruce tree. The male, seeing fresh opportunity, forgot about the first female and went to check out the new prospect. Seeing her chance the first female departed the scene.

The new bird kept to her branch. She was not interested. He stayed below, Romeo to her Juliet.

Male and female ruffed grouse

As for the injured female? I saw her later beyond the end of the garden. I’m not sure how seriously she was hurt. Later I checked where she had struck the glass and found dozens of feathers.

Female ruffed grouse

Reflections confuse the birds. Although we’ve done what we can to bird-proof our windows, two female grouse died this summer when they flew into them. Thinking they have an escape route they hit hard glass instead.

Hopefully this one will survive.


Ruffed grouse   Bonasa umbellus

28 thoughts on “Fan-dango

  1. Just last night, at our monthly meeting of the native plant society, an Audubon representative gave a presentation on bird-friendly communities. Among the threats to birds that she mentioned was the experience your grouse had: flying into glass. On Galveston Island, the two tallest buildings were wreaking particular havoc, as they’re on the main flyway for the spring migration, and a combination of their glass and their height was really a problem. Various agencies, together with Audubon, came up with some mitigation techniques, and the owners of the buildings were willing to implement them. I presume it was more complicated than cut-out profiles on the windows, but I’m glad they were willing to join in the effort to reduce trauma to the birds.

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  2. First, Sally, sorry about the window. We have had quite a challenge with ours as well. One thing I did was to move our bird feeder, which has helped tremendously. Second, Great photos, what I have been waiting for! A male grouse in full display! Thank you. Reminds me ever so much of our tom turkeys. –Curt

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    1. We used to have bird feeders too — you’re right, too close to the window and they create problems for birds. We also discovered that black bears love sunflower seeds. We had cubs on the deck staring us during lunch, a teenage black who tore down one feeder and a mom with cubs up on the deck as well. Unfortunately that wasn’t good for the bears. When they end up where they’re not supposed to be there is an attitude of shoot, shovel and shut up. Since we didn’t want to encourage bears to come into farmyards we took all the feeders down. I do miss the birds though.

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      1. I’ve seen some great photos of bears trying to get to bird feeders, Sally. Fortunately, or probably I should say, so far and knock on wood, our local bears haven’t developed a taste for sunflower seeds yet. –Curt

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      2. Maybe they’re just not to their liking? The deer never bother my little flower garden though neighbours are constantly complaining about the nighttime raids on their blooms. Some have been forced to put up tall fences if they want to enjoy the flowers. Go figure. 🙂

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      3. We have to put up tall fences around here, Sally. 🙂 We do have plants that the deer don’t like, though. Lavender is an example. So we plant those in places where we don’t want fences. One of the neighborhood bears did tip over our heavy Weber grill on our back porch once in the middle of the night. That was a bit scary! 🙂

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      4. Sweet peas, petunias, lobelia, marigolds, snapdragons etc all seem deer-free (so far).. Curt.As for your bear, what was he barbecuing? 🙂

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      5. The bear was quite excited about the hamburgers I cooked earlier. 🙂 Our daughter was sleeping next to the porch. She got a little excitable. Our deer seem to leave marigolds alone, Sally. Maybe we will try petunias and snapdragons. Thanks. –Curt

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    1. What a great list of ideas. Thanks, Eliza. We have used the netting and it really is like a trampoline! We gave up the bird feeders years ago — the black bears also love sunflower seeds. We didn’t want to encourage them into the yard in case they started wandering into other farmyards where they might meet an unfortunate end.

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      1. Wise choice. We have a saying here, “A fed bear, is a dead bear.”
        Bears have curtailed our feeding the birds, too. We’re usually good from mid-Dec. to mid-March, but with climate change, those dates are moving.

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