Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) are one of several native species of grouse in Idaho. This medium sized bird generally weighs between 1- 1.5 pounds, with very little size difference between the male and female birds. Ruffed grouse are either grey or brown morph – which describes their general coloring – although both morphs are well suited to camouflage the birds. Ruffed grouse are named for their distinct ruff of black feathers which are found on all birds.
Ruffed grouse prefer mixed woodland with lots of aspen trees as habitat, making them a common bird to find in north Idaho. Ruffed grouse may be hunted in Idaho, although they are very hard to spot – they are most often found by the loud noises the males make to attract female birds. This noise is made with the wings, rather than a vocal noise, and is the source of many nicknames for the grouse. Ruffed grouse populations are considered healthy in all of their native areas.
Interesting facts about the ruffed grouse:
- Ruffed grouse are often incorrectly called partridges, pheasants and prairie chickens.
- The mating noise of the ruffed grouse can be heard from up to 1/4 of a mile away.
- Ruffed grouse will almost anything, with live salamanders and snakes having been found in the crop of birds.
- Burrowing in the snow to hide from predators is common for the ruffed grouse during winter time.
- Ruffed grouse are also known as “thunder-chicken.”