During their Animals Signs class, Jeffers Pond students headed off trail to explore. Lucky for them, they spotted a Ruffed Grouse! The students were thereafter very excited to look for more signs of the “forest chicken” – a nickname given due to their shape and similar movement.
Ruffed Grouse have a short, triangular crest and a long, fan-shaped tail. They have short legs and often look slimmer than other grouse species. The birds are also intricately patterned with dark bars and spots on either a reddish-brown or grayish background. The tail is finely barred, with one wide, black band near the tip.
Look for them foraging on the forest-interior floor for seeds and insects. Displaying males make a deep, airy drumming sound by beating their wings while standing on a log. Winter birds form flocks and often eat buds of deciduous trees.
We see grouse on the trails to Wolf and Raven lakes, on the way to Sawmill creek, and especially near Marshall Mountain. Keep an eye out for these cool “forest chickens!”