The male ruffed grouse in the photo above was documented on a Rosslyn wildlife camera about a year ago. Fancy fowl! And the two images below were recorded a few weeks ago.
Rosslyn’s backlands are fortunately flush with ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus), a welcome reminder that wildlife gravitates — as if by some primal sense — to safe havens and sanctuaries. If you preserve it, they will come (or so our experience over the last 12+ years suggests.)
What is a Ruffed Grouse?
A brown or gray-brown, chicken-like bird with slight crest, fan-shaped, black-banded tail, barred flanks, and black ‘ruffs’ on sides of neck.
Habitat: Deciduous and mixed forests, especially those with scattered clearings and dense undergrowth; overgrown pastures.
Female gives soft hen-like clucks. In spring displaying male sits on a log and beats the air with his wings, creating a drumming sound that increases rapidly in tempo. (Source: Audubon)
Popular among hunters for their tender meat, the ruffed grouse in these images are safe in Rosslyn’s wildlife sanctuary. Although Susan is a vegetarian (a pescatarian, actually), I concede a robust appetite for wild game. That said, I’m not a hunter. And when we purchased first one, and then a second adjoining lots, our intention was to preserve and rewild, to invest in a healthy and resilient wildway buffering the already significant wildlife moving along Library Brook. With acreage expanded and John Davis’s wildlife stewardship guiding our rewilding efforts, native wildlife are returning and prospering.
Ruffed Grouse Haiku
Drumming done, echoes,
peaked crest, feathered ruff, fanned tail,…
If you’ve never heard a ruffed grouse drumming, you should definitely play the video below. It’s a mysterious rhythm I associate with late winter through early spring outings — cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and sometimes mindful, sometimes mindless meandering — through Rosslyn’s forests and meadows.