Bonasa umbellus


Common Names: Ruffed grouse, partridge, drummer, thunder-chicken, prairie chicken
Category: Birds
Sub-category: Pheasants, Turkeys, & Grouse


A medium-sized grouse occurring in forests from the Appalachian Mountains across Canada to Alaska. The Ruffed Grouse is the state bird of Pennsylvania. These chunky, medium-sized birds weigh from 0.99-1.7 lbs, measure from 16 to 20 inches in length and span 20 to 25 inches across their short, strong wings. Ruffed Grouse have two distinct morphs, grey and brown. In the grey morph, the head, neck and back are grey-brown; the breast is light with barring. There is much white on the underside and flanks, and overall the birds have a variegated appearance; the throat is often distinctly lighter. The tail is essentially the same brownish grey, with regular barring and a broad black band near the end. Brown-morph birds have tails of the same color and pattern, but the rest of the plumage is much more brown, giving the appearance of a more uniform bird with less light plumage below and a conspicuously grey tail. There are all sorts of intergrades between the most typical morphs; warmer and more humid conditions favor browner birds in general. The ruffs are on the sides of the neck in both genders. They also have a crest on top of their head, which sometimes lies flat. Both genders are similarly marked and sized, making them difficult to tell apart, even in hand. The female often has a broken subterminal tail band, while males tend to have unbroken tail bands, though the opposite of either can occur. Females may also do a display similar to the male. Another fairly accurate sign is that rump feathers with a single white dot indicate a female; rump feathers with more than one white dot indicate a male.

Like most grouse, they spend most of their time on the ground, mixed woodland rich in aspen seems to be particularly well-liked. These birds forage on the ground or in trees.

Edible Notes: Grouse are edible. They a common gamebird. Hunting ruffed grouse is common in the northern and far western United States as well as Canada.
Warnings: Not known to be dangerous.
Sightings