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Archive for November 15, 2012

Ruffed Grouse Crop Contents

Some birds, especially those that eat seeds, buds, leaves and nuts, such as ruffed grouse, eat food very rapidly, faster than it can be passed through the digestive system.  These birds usually have a pouch-like crop where food is stored to be digested later, when the birds are not out in the open, susceptible to predators.  (see 10-24-12 Naturally Curious post)  This rapid consumption and storage of food by grouse, often at dawn and dusk, is referred to as “budding.”  Examining the contents of road-killed grouse crops is one way of learning more about this adaptive behavior.  Assuming some of my readers might (?) share my curiosity about the diet of grouse, I occasionally post the contents of a grouse crop I’ve recently examined.   My most recent dissection revealed that the grouse had switched from its herbaceous summer diet to its more woody winter diet — its crop contained no less than 232 male birch flower buds, or catkins.  (Disclaimer:  This crop was not that of the grouse that was the subject of the 11-9-12 post.)