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.
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.
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.
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?
I discretely retreated.
Ruffed grouse Bonasa umbellus