Pennsylvania State Bird, the Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus)

By AF3LMike | af3l_mike | 3 Apr 2019


While hiking in the woods, I found this Ruffed Grouse sitting in a tree above me. The Ruffed Grouse is a popular game bird but not really easy to find. The Ruffed Grouse was designated the official Pennsylvania State Bird in 1931. This bird wanted nothing to do with being photographed. I was only able to fire off 3 photos before it took off and never to be seen again. Here are the 3 photos I was able to get of the Ruffed Grouse

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Some cool facts about the Ruffed Grouse are provided by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website

 

1. Ruffed Grouse can digest bitter, often toxic plants that many birds can’t handle. Levels of defensive plant compounds in buds of quaking aspen, a major winter-time food source for Ruffed Grouse, reflect the cyclic rise and fall of grouse populations: they’re lowest when grouse densities are increasing, and highest when grouse densities decline

2. Ruffed Grouse can consume and digest large volumes of fibrous vegetation thanks to extra-long, paired pouches at the junction of the small and large intestines. In the northern part of their range, Ruffed Grouse depend on snow as a wintertime roost, burying themselves at night in soft drifts that provide insulating cover. Birds in the south seek out dense stands of conifers that offer protection from chilling winds

3. Ruffed Grouse’s popularity as a game bird led to some of North America’s earliest game management efforts: New York had a closed season (no hunting in part of the year) on Ruffed Grouse starting in 1708

4. The toes of Ruffed Grouse grow projections off their sides in winter, making them look like combs. The projections are believed to act as snowshoes to help the grouse walk across snow

5. In much of their range, Ruffed Grouse populations go through 8-to-11-year cycles of increasing and decreasing numbers. Their cycles can be attributed to the snowshoe hare cycle. When hare populations are high, predator populations increase too. When the hare numbers go down, the predators must find alternate prey and turn to grouse, decreasing their numbers

6. Ruffed Grouse nests are occasionally parasitized by Ring-necked Pheasants or Wild Turkeys that lay eggs in the nests

7. The male Ruffed Grouse’s signature drumming display doesn’t involve drumming on anything but air. As the bird quickly rotates its wings forward and backward, air rushes in beneath the wings creating a miniature vacuum that generates a deep, thumping sound wave that carries up to a quarter of a mile

 

 

My camera equipment:

Canon EOS 60D body

Canon EF-S 18-135mmf/3.5-5.6 IS Lens

Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM for Canon EF mount

Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di Vc USD Lens for Canon

All photos are handshot, no tripod

Thanks everyone for taking the time to read this post. Have a great day/night wherever you may be

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AF3LMike
AF3LMike

My name is Michael from Pennsylvania, U.S.A. I am 47 yrs old and have created this blog for my passion of bird, other wildlife, landscape photography, basically anything that captures my interest with a camera. I hope you enjoy what I post


af3l_mike
af3l_mike

My name is Michael from Pennsylvania, U.S.A. I am 47 yrs old and have created this blog for my passion of bird, other wildlife, landscape photography and basically anything that captures my interest with a camera. I hope you enjoy what I post

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