Wandering Aimlessly


A Friendly Thunderbird

by Phil Burkhouse


Perhaps you have heard stories about woods walkers who have experienced strange encounters with our state bird, the ruffed grouse.  Grouse are permanent residents that thrive in thickets and areas of very heavy cover.  Grouse feed on tree buds, berries, seeds, leaves, insects, and will occasionally gobble down a small invertebrate.

The grouse is a blend of browns, black, and white that gives it perfect woods camouflage.  Although it is a “plain Jane” in the bird world, lacking the gaudy colors present in many birds, grouse possess their own special beauty.  Grouse only weigh a pound or two, but when flushed in thick cover their rapid strong wing beats create an explosion that always gives me a moment of fright until I figure out it’s not a pterodactyl getting airborne.

Grouse use their short, stout wings to create a drumming sound in March and April, the breeding season, to attract the females.  They often hold court on a log or rock which serves as a sound chamber to broadcast their sex appeal to the ladies. 



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