Tuesday, October 8, 2013

October Grousing - plumage variation in the Ruffed Grouse.

The Ruffed Grouse is a well established, year-round resident of the Prairie Parkland region. I haven't found them to be particularly noticeable or abundant at Elk Island National Park - typically I might see or hear two or three birds in any given week.

In recent weeks they've been more conspicuous. With very large broods, numbers of grouse can fluctuate considerably between years - perhaps the 2013 nesting season was more successful than average.  Last Sunday we flushed eight from a hiking trail and spotted another six crouched along the roadside.

This is a typical view through the car window.

Less typical are autumn encounters with strutting males. I was fortunate last week to cross paths with this fine fellow. I knew that across their range, the plumage varies and red or gray morphs may predominate, but I'd never before seen a bird with a rich rufous ruff. Wow!

Here's a typical black ruffed, gray morph bird from northern Ontario. Notice how different the tail colouration is.

If you haven't ever seen a Ruffed Grouse in full hormone-crazed strut, check out this short video of the same bird, taken on March 17, 2010 in Pukaskwa National Park.

Related material:

Here are some excellent photos, among very few I could find on-line, showing a red-ruffed RUGR in Minnesota.

Evolutionary biologists consider grouse and their avian kin to be the original twerkers.


  1. Great post, I love the colors! I have yet to get a decent photo of a Ruffed Grouse!

  2. What a beautiful bird. I am very fond of the side roads in your part of the province, so scenic and often so rich with wildlife!

  3. I like your article because you present such an latest facts and Ruffed Grouse bird wallpaper.