The Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) is a medium-sized bird that is native to North America. On average, the male Ruffed Grouse measures about 16-19 inches in length and weighs between 16-25 ounces, while the females are slightly smaller, measuring around 14-16 inches in length and weighing between 12-20 ounces.
The Ruffed Grouse is easily identified by its distinctive brown or grey plumage, with dark brown or black barring on the tail feathers and wings. The bird’s most notable feature is the ruff of dark feathers around its neck that gives it its name. The male Ruffed Grouse also has a bare, bright red patch of skin, called a “comb,” over each eye that is used in courtship displays.
Ruffed Grouse are primarily non-migratory birds, although they may make short-distance movements in search of food or better cover during harsh winter conditions. During the winter months, they prefer to stay near dense cover such as coniferous trees, while in the spring and summer, they can be found in deciduous forests and edges.
These birds are known for their elaborate courtship displays, in which males will drum their wings and tail feathers against a log or stump to create a loud, distinctive sound. The drumming can be heard from up to 100 yards away and is often used to attract females during the breeding season.
Ruffed Grouse are primarily herbivores, feeding on a variety of fruits, seeds, and buds, although they will occasionally consume insects and other small animals. Due to their popularity among hunters and habitat loss, the Ruffed Grouse populations have fluctuated over the years, and they are currently listed as a species of concern in several states.