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!
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.
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.