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The Short Life Span of Ruffed Grouse

1-8-16  fisher and grouse 177Ruffed grouse typically have a short life span; few live to be three years old. By mid-August about 60 percent of the grouse hatched that year are lost to predators, weather extremes, disease, accidents (such as flying into windows) and hunters. Less than half of the surviving young survive through the winter to have a chance to breed in the spring, and less than half of those that survive long enough to breed make it to a second mating season. The hazards for a ruffed grouse are many, with predation at the top of the list.

Birds of prey, especially the goshawk and great horned owl, take many grouse, but terrestrial hunters such as foxes, coyotes, bobcats and fishers also take advantage of this plentiful food source. Along with hares, porcupines, squirrels, mice and voles, grouse are one of the fisher’s preferred foods. A fisher managed to capture a ruffed grouse in the pictured scene, leaving only tracks and a few tell-tale feathers to tell the story.

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9 responses

  1. Cheron barton

    If you go to concord Audubon center… You will see taxidermy Samples!! Cool!! Enjoy!! Sent from my iPhone


    January 8, 2016 at 8:47 am

  2. Edward Parsons

    Mary I have been receiving your post on this address. Can you change it to, please, and delete this address. Thanks, Ed Parsons

    January 8, 2016 at 9:04 am

  3. Bruce Flewelling

    Hunters do not contribute to the 60% loss of hatch year chicks by August. Grouse hunting season doesn’t open until the last of September.

    January 8, 2016 at 9:48 am

  4. A ruffed grouse glanced off my windshield while I was driving VERY slowly along a back road in Marlboro, VT a week ago, then landed safely beside the car and walked off into the hemlocks. Reporting in with the Christmas Bird Count coordinator there, they had 3 birds reported for the count this year, on par with their 17 year average. At home here in Concord, MA we haven’t been able to find a single one at CBC time for several years, though I accidentally flushed one in some invasive overgrowth last summer.

    January 8, 2016 at 10:51 am

  5. Chris Runcie

    And another source of mortality is crashing into buildings, of which we had first-hand evidence this fall.

    January 8, 2016 at 11:01 am

  6. Sara DeMont

    Sad picture but remember tough little Sandy!!

    January 8, 2016 at 4:39 pm

  7. I feel like I have seen fewer ruffed grouse in the past two years. Has anybody noticed a decline in the numbers that they have seen?

    January 9, 2016 at 10:31 am

    • They seem to be plentiful in central Vermont.

      January 9, 2016 at 10:50 am

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