Pennsylvania State Bird
Ruffed Grouse

Ruffed Grouse

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
  • Family: Phasianidae
  • 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 mixed woodlands.
  • 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 preened feathers.
  • Eggs: Averages 9-12 buff-colored eggs, lightly spotted with browns. 1.5" (39 mm).
  • Incubation period: 21-28 days
  • Fledge: 10-12 days after hatching
  • 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.

Eastern Forest Birds

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