The Ruffed Grouse are common gamebirds of moist Northeastern and Western Forests. They are most commonly seen on the ground as they search for food.
Many can also hear the males drumming in the Spring and may see females either "puff up" and charge or try to lure them away with a "broken-wing" display as they
try to protect their young.
Being game birds, they can be hunted during limited seasons in most areas that have them (most successfully with dogs). Grouse meat is juicy and delicious
if not over-cooked.
Official Pennsylvania State Bird Name: Ruffed Grouse
American Ornithologists' Union Common Name: Ruffed Grouse
Other names: partridge, drummer, woodpile guawkie and woods pheasant
Scientific Name: Bonasa umbellus
Length: 17" (43 cm)
Diet: Omnivore; About 80% buds, leaves, flowers, seeds, and
fruit; 20% insects, spiders, snails, small vertebrates. Young fed
largely on insects and invertebrates.
Voice: Male display is a series of accelerating, muffled
thumps, produced by beating wings rapidly while standing, that sounds
like a distant motor starting (this low-pitched "drumming" is often
felt rather than heard). Both sexes give clucking notes and higher
squeal when alarmed.
Habitat: Ground and understory of deciduous or
Displays: Male display on individual territories where they
"drum" (usually on log) with rapid forward and upward strokes of the
wings, the drumming accelerating then decelerating; males erect crest
and neck ruff feathers, fan tail, and strut.
Number of broods: 1
Nest: Often concealed at base of tree, under
branches of fallen tree or nest to log; deep hollow, lined with
Longevity Record: 8 Years and 6 months (according to USGS Bird Banding Lab)
Male Ruffed Grouse Drumming
Listen carefully as the male Ruffed Grouse "drums" in an attempt to attract a female. Many people can not hear these low frequency sounds.
Settlers relied on this plump, red-brown bird with the feathery legs as part of their food supply. The Ruffed Grouse is still a familiar sight in
Pennsylvania's forests. It was designated the Pennsylvania State Bird on June 22, 1931.