Birds Vol 1 #6 – The Ruffed Grouse

Ruffed Grous for Birds Illustrated by Color Photography, 1897

Ruffed Grous for Birds Illustrated by Color Photography, 1897, From col. F. M. Woodruff

Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

Vol 1. June, 1897 No. 6

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THE RUFFED GROUSE.

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HE Ruffed Grouse, which is called Partridge in New England and Pheasant in the Middle and Southern States, is the true Grouse, while Bob White is the real Partridge. It is unfortunate that they continue to be confounded. The fine picture of his grouseship, however, which we here present should go far to make clear the difference between them.

The range of the Ruffed Grouse is eastern United States, south to North Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, and Arkansas. They hatch in April, the young immediately leaving the nest with the mother. When they hear the mother’s warning note the little ones dive under leaves and bushes, while she leads the pursuer off in an opposite direction. Building the nest and sitting upon the eggs constitute the duties of the female, the males during this interesting season keeping separate, not rejoining their mates until the young are hatched, when they begin to roam as a family.

Like the Turkey, the Ruffed Grouse has a habit of pluming and strutting, and also makes the drumming noise which has caused so much discussion. This noise “is a hollow vibrating sound, beginning softly and increasing as if a small rubber ball were dropped slowly and then rapidly bounced on a drum.” While drumming the bird contrives to make himself invisible, and if seen it is difficult to get the slightest clue to the manner in which the sound is produced. And observers say that it beats with its wings on a log, that it raises its wings and strikes their edges above its back, that it claps them against its sides like a crowing rooster, and that it beats the air. The writer has seen a grouse drum, appearing to strike its wings together over its back. But there is much difference of opinion on the subject, and young observers may settle the question for themselves. When preparing to drum he seems fidgety and nervous and his sides are inflated. Letting his wings droop, he flaps them so fast that they make one continuous humming sound. In this peculiar way he calls his mate, and while he is still drumming, the hen bird may appear, coming slyly from the leaves.

The nest is on the ground, made by the female of dry leaves and a few feathers plucked from her own breast. In this slight structure she lays ten or twelve cream-colored eggs, specked with brown.

The eyes of the Grouse are of great depth and softness, with deep expanding pupils and golden brown iris.

Coming suddenly upon a young brood squatted with their mother near a roadside in the woods, an observer first knew of their presence by the old bird flying directly in his face, and then tumbling about at his feet with frantic signs of distress and lameness. In the meantime the little ones scattered in every direction and were not to be found. As soon as the parent was satisfied of their safety, she flew a short distance and he soon heard her clucking call to them to come to her again. It was surprising how quickly they reached her side, seeming to pop up as from holes in the ground.

THE RUFFED GROUSE.

At first sight most of you will think this is a turkey. Well, it does look very much like one. He spreads his tail feathers, puffs himself up, and struts about like a turkey. You know by this time what his name is and I think you can easily see why he is called Ruffed.

This proud bird and his mate live with us during the whole year. They are found usually in grassy lands and in woods.

Here they build their rude nest of dried grass, weeds and the like. You will generally find it at the foot of a tree, or along side of an old stump in or near swampy lands.

The Ruffed Grouse has a queer way of calling his mate. He stands on a log or stump, puffed up like a turkey—just as you see him in the picture. Then he struts about for a time just as you have seen a turkey gobbler do. Soon he begins to work his wings—slowly at first, but faster and faster, until it sounds like the beating of a drum.

His mate usually answers his call by coming. They set up housekeeping and build their rude nest which holds from eight to fourteen eggs. As soon as the young are hatched they can run about and find their own food. So you see they are not much bother to their parents. When they are a week old they can fly. The young usually stay with their parents until next Spring. Then they start out and find mates for themselves.

I said at the first that the Ruffed Grouse stay with us all the year. In the winter, when it is very cold, they burrow into a snowdrift to pass the night. During the summer they always roost all night.


Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) by Kent Nickel

Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) by Kent Nickel

Lee’s Addition:

If a bird’s nest happens to be before you along the way, in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs, with the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young; you shall surely let the mother go, and take the young for yourself, that it may be well with you and that you may prolong your days. (Deuteronomy 22:6-7 NKJV)

Here is another one of God’s neat birds. The Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) is a medium-sized grouse occurring in forests from the Appalachian Mountains across Canada to Alaska. It is non-migratory. The Ruffed Grouse is frequently referred to as a “partridge”. This is technically wrong—partridges are unrelated phasianids, and in hunting may lead to confusion with the Grey Partridge, it is a bird of woodlands, not open areas. It is a very popular game bird.

The Ruffed Grouse is also the state bird of Pennsylvania.

Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) by Raymond Barlow

Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) by Raymond Barlow

Ruffed Grouse look like chickens in appearance. They are medium to large with a thick body with a small crest on their head. When they fly their wings are rounded. Their coloration works very well to blend them with their habitat. The Lord has provided that protection for them. “One of the interesting ruffed grouse facts is that during winter, these birds develop a web-like structure that joins their toes, so that they can walk easily on snow.” (Buzzle.com)

The Ruffed Grouse is one of 182 members of the Phasianidae – Pheasants, Fowls and Allies Family. Other birds that are similar are found in the Galliformes Order.

Here is a video of a Ruffed Grouse drumming from YouTube from TheMusicofNature

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Birds Illustrated by Color Photograhy Vol 1 June, 1897 No 6 - Cover

Birds Illustrated by Color Photograhy Vol 1 June, 1897 No 6 – Cover

Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

The above article is an article in the monthly serial for May 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.

To see the whole series of – Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

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(Information from Wikipedia and other internet sources)

Next Article – The Black and White Creeping Warbler

Previous Article – The Scarlet Tanager

Wordless Birds

Links:

Ruffed Grouse – All About Birds

Ruffed Grouse Facts – Buzzle.com

Ruffed Grouse – Wikipedia

Grouse Facts

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