Ruffed Grouse - Bonasa umbellus
The 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.
The ruffed grouse can be found in Alaska and Canada south to California, Wyoming, Minnesota, Missouri and the Carolinas.
In 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.
The 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.
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