Bird of the Week – Ruffed Grouse


We’re pretty much done with raptors. It’s time to look at birds a little lower down the food chain. And in Interior Alaska, that means the Ruffed Grouse.

Dennis, an Over-Agressive Ruffed Grouse Male, Creamer's Refuge, Fairbanks

Dennis, an Over-Aggressive Ruffed Grouse Male, Creamer’s Refuge, Fairbanks

This is Dennis, a Ruffed Grouse who was determined to drive all humans out of his territory. Dennis isn’t with us any longer; it’s not a behavior that confers an evolutionary advantage; his genes have left the pool.

Ruffed Grouse Female Lunching on Chokecherries, Fairbanks

Ruffed Grouse Female Lunching on Chokecherries, Fairbanks

Like every species of Galliformes that WC has encountered, the Ruffed Grouse has an elaborate courtship display, including the display shown here and very impressive “drumming.” While perched on a log, stump, boulder, or other slightly raised platform, with his tail braced, the male repeatedly spreads his wings and then rotates his wings forward, then quickly backward. It makes a kind of “booming” sound, and sounds something like a cranky engine starting up.

Ruffed Grouse Male Displaying, Fairbanks

Ruffed Grouse Male Displaying, Fairbanks

Interior Alaska is near the northern limit of the species range. They are found as far south as Georgia.

For more bird photos, please visit Frozen Feather Images.

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