Ruffed Grouse

Bonasa umbellus

Summary 3

Well-adapted to living on the forest floor, the Ruffed Grouse is mottled brown-and-gray on the back and barred brown-and-gray below. This species may also be identified by its large size (16-19 inches), black-banded tail, and the ruffled head and feathers on its neck and head. Two color morphs occur, a northern morph with a gray tail and a southern morph with a rusty-red tail. Female Ruffed Grouse are slightly smaller than males, and have smaller quantities of ruffled feathers.

The core range of the Ruffled Grouse is centered on southern Canada, extending north to the Arctic Circle in Alaska and south along higher elevations of the Appalachian and Rocky Mountains as far as North Carolina and Utah, respectively. Several conservation programs have led to the reintroduction of this species into isolated locations in the southern portion of its range, where it was once more common. The Ruffed Grouse is a permanent resident across its range. Ruffed Grouse inhabit cool evergreen and mixed evergreen and deciduous forests.

Plant matter, including seeds, buds, leaves, and berries, make up a large proportion of this species’ diet. However during the warmer months (and particularly during breeding), insects are consumed when available as a source of protein for chicks and adults alike. Ruffed Grouse may be observed while foraging for food on the forest floor or while roosting in trees at dawn or dusk. During the early part of the breeding season, males may be heard making loud drumming noises with their wings as part of their mating and territorial display. This species is primarily active during the day, but males may drum on clear nights after dark or in the morning before dawn.

Threat Status: Least concern

Sources and Credits

  1. (c) wplynn, some rights reserved (CC BY-ND), https://www.flickr.com/photos/warrenlynn/15560709701/
  2. (c) Tom Benson, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-ND), https://www.flickr.com/photos/40928097@N07/15854627077/
  3. Adapted by carmacks_bioblitz from a work by (c) Unknown, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA), http://eol.org/data_objects/22710028

More Info

Range Map

iNatCA Map

Animal Bird
Color brown
Bird Phasianidae (grouse)