What is a Grouse?

What is a Grouse?

What is a grouse?  Simply put a grouse is a type of bird, there are roughly 18 different types of grouses that you can find in the wild but they do share some commonalities.  The type of grouse you are probably most familiar with is the ruffed grouse.  The Ruffed grouse is mostly a ground dwelling bird although if being chased by predators they can take flight for short distances.  Let’s take a closer look at the Ruffed grouse and how they live.


The ruffed grouse is not very large, from the tip of their beak to the tip of their tail they are a little over a foot long and weigh slightly more than a pound.  The have pretty short life spans with most of them not surviving the first year.  If they get past the first year most will only live 2 or 3 years.  It is a game bird that looks a lot like a chicken.  You may have heard your hunter friends refer to it as a partridge or a wood pheasant.  The Latin name for this particular species of bird is the “bonasa unbellus” which literally means…good when roasted.  While they do look a bit like chickens their coloring will be different, it will take on the color of the environment to help keep it safe from predators.

Natural Environment

You will find the ruffed grouse mostly among fairly thick brush and it is for the most part a ground dweller.  These birds are fast and flexible and if chased by a predator they will take to the air for short spurts of flight.  They also climb the branches and stems of trees, even the thinnest ones.  Their diet consists of leaves and buds of common trees like alders, birch and poplars.

Grouse mate in the spring and the mating ritual can be a little odd.  The male grouse climbs on top of a stump, log or rock and starts beating it wings.  The start off slowly and then start flapping faster which creates a drumming sound.  This “drumming” serves two purposes, first it will attract females and the second purpose is to scare off other males from the area.

Where They Live

You can find ruffed grouse throughout deciduous forest from Alaska in the north all the way down to Georgia in the south.  These birds don’t migrate, rather they stay within the same couple of acres for their entire world.

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