| Grouse are a group of birds from the order Galliformes. Grouse inhabit temperate and subarctic regions of the northern hemisphere. They are game and are sometimes hunted for food.|
Males are often polygamous, and many species have elaborate courtship displays. These heavily built birds have legs feathered to the toes. Most species are year-round residents, and do not migrate.
These birds feed mainly on vegetables, but will also feed on insects, especially when feeding young.
Ruffed Grouse are hunted across their entire range, and are widely considered to be among the most challenging of all upland birds. Population densities across the continent have declined severely in recent decades, primarily due to habitat loss.
Many states in the U.S. have open Grouse hunting seasons that run from October through January, but hunting is not considered to be a significant contributing factor in the population decline.
Ruffed Grouse are pursued by hunters both with and without the aid of dogs, and in most states are taken legally only with shotguns or through falconry.
The Ruffed Grouse, Bonasa umbellus, is a medium-sized grouse occurring in forests across Canada and the appalachian and northern United States including Alaska. They are non-migratory.
Ruffed Grouse have two distinct color phases, grey and red. In the grey phase, adults have a long square brownish tail with barring and a black subterminal band near the end. The head, neck and back are grey-brown; they have a light breast with barring. The ruffs are located on the sides of the neck.
Ruffed Grouse also have a "crest" on top of their head, which sometimes lays flat. Both sexes are similarly marked and sized, making them difficult to tell apart, even in hand. The female often has a broken subterminal tail band, while males often have unbroken tail bands.
Another fairly accurate method for sexing ruffed grouse involves inspection of the rump feathers. Feathers with a single white dot indicate a female, feathers with more than one white dot to indicate that the bird is a male.
Ruffed Grouse have never been successfully bred in captivity. These birds forage on the ground or in trees. They are omnivores, eating buds, leaves, berries, seeds, and insects. More than any other characteristic, it is the ruffed grouse's ability to thrive on a wide range of foods that has allowed it to adapt to such a wide and varied range of habitat on this continent.
The male is often heard drumming on a fallen log in spring to attract females for mating. Females nest on the ground, typically laying 6-8 eggs. Grouse spend most of their time on the ground, and when surprised, will explode into flight, beating their wings very loudly.
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