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Ruffed Grouse Bonasa umbellus


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Ruffed Grouse
credit: Mdf/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Phasianidae, Pheasants and Grouse view all from this family

Description ADULT MALE Has either gray or brown plumage, darker above than below, with pale streaks on upperparts and dark bars on underparts. Dark tail feather bars appear as concentric rings on fanned tail. Black feathers on neck form a ruff when displaying; otherwise hard to see. ADULT FEMALE Similar to adult male, but smaller and with shorter tail. JUVENILE Similar to adult female, but duller; dark subterminal tail band is absent.

Dimensions Length: 16-19" (41-48 cm)

Habitat Locally common in deciduous woodland, especially where Aspen Populus tremuloides is common (buds and shoots feature in diet).

Observation Tips The wonderfully cryptic camouflage makes it hard to spot. Listen for male's drumming in spring.

Range Mid-Atlantic, Alaska, New England, Western Canada, Southeast, Rocky Mountains, Northwest, Southwest, Eastern Canada, Plains, Great Lakes, California

Voice Utters various squeaks. Male's drumming display is created by rapid wingbeats.

Discussion Plump grouse. Intricate plumage patterns afford it superb camouflage on woodland floor. Feeds mainly on buds, shoots, and fruits. Gray and reddish brown color forms occur throughout, but birds from east are palest and grayest, while those from west typically are darkest and brownest. All adult birds show a striking subterminal black band on otherwise brown or gray tail, most noticeable in flight. Sexes are similar.