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Ruffed Grouse - Bonasa umbellus

Ruffed grouse


 Kingdom: Animalia
 Phylum: Chordata
 Class: Aves
 Order: Galliformes
 Family: Phasianidae
 Genus:  Bonasa 
ICUN Redlist - World Status: Least ConcernLeast Concern


Ruffed GrouseThe ruffed grouse is a chicken-sized bird about 16-19 inches in length. It has reddish-brown to gray-brown plumage and a short crest on its head. It has barred flanks and a black ruff around its neck. It has a short, pointed bill and a long, square, flat tail.


mapThe ruffed grouse can be found in Alaska and Canada south to California, Wyoming, Minnesota, Missouri and the Carolinas.





Ruffed GrouseThe ruffed grouse lives in deciduous and mixed forests in areas with trees like poplars, willow, birch, and alders.





Ruffed GrouseIn the summer, the ruffed grouse eats seeds, and fruits like thorn apples, blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries. It also eats insects and small snakes and frogs. In the winter, it flies into tree branches and feeds on the buds and catkins of deciduous trees.

Life Cycle

Ruffed GrouseThe male ruffed grouse attracts mates and defends his territory by drumming! He perches on a drumming post, usually a log, mound, or stone, and cups his wings and beats them against the air. This produces a drumming sound!  In fact, the ruffed grouse is sometimes called the drummer. The male puffs out his ruff and fans out his tail in a visual display designed to either attract a mate or warn off an intruder.

Ruffed GrouseThe female lays 9-12 eggs at a rate of one egg every day and a half. The nest is in a cup-shaped  depression lined with leaves and feathers, usually at the base of a tree, a stump, or under a bush. The female incubates the eggs. The chicks hatch in about 24-26 days and are hunting for insects shortly after hatching. The female takes care of the hatchlings until they can roost on their own in the trees. They will fledge when they are 10-12 days old and will be independent by the time they are about 16-18 weeks old.


In the fall and early winter young ruffed grouse sometimes crash into windows and buildings in a behavior called "crazy-flight."

Audio Credit: xeno-canto.org Andrew Spencer cc logo