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Pectination Growth Started

10-12-17 pectinations 049A5827Every fall Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) grow skin-like fringes called pectinations on either side of each toe. They serve as snowshoes, helping grouse stay on top of the snow when walking, as well as cling to icy branches while eating the buds of poplars and other trees in the winter. In the spring grouse shed these adaptive fringes.

Ornithological texts describe these growths as appearing in the fall, but usually do not specify exactly when they develop.  A recent look at a road-killed grouse’s foot (photo) showed that pectinations have begun to develop, but have not completed their growth. The pectinations shown here will double their length by the time snow flies.



11 responses

  1. Marilyn

    Thank you! I took several pictures of the strange feet of a grouse that flew into my south window a few years ago. Fascinating.

    October 18, 2017 at 8:36 am

  2. Vicky Linville

    I am greatly enjoying your posts! In September, my son was visiting here in VT and he closed a rolling barn door which sadly killed a bat that got caught in the wheel. The bat is a perfect specimen. Knowing that bats are endangered and are suffering from the white nosed fungus syndrome, I quickly froze the bat thinking that someone studying the disease might like to see this one. I did not look closely enough to see if the bat was infected but it looked ok to me.

    Do you know anyone who would like to take a look at this frozen bat?

    Thanks, Vicky Linvil

    October 18, 2017 at 8:47 am

  3. Treah Pichette

    Mary….you never cease to amaze me with all these interesting facts! Who knew this happened? Thank you again!

    October 18, 2017 at 9:41 am

  4. Alice Pratt

    That’s a very interesting adaptation…I wonder if any other birds in snowy regions grow those?

    October 18, 2017 at 10:07 am

  5. Sandy

    Ahhh. Never knew that. Would like to know when White-tailed Deer antlers are/were in velvet, when the antlers are “done” growing and when the bucks shed their antlers. Thanks. Sandy

    October 18, 2017 at 1:10 pm

  6. Deborah Monnat-White

    1. I appreciate that I am not the only one who likes to check out roadkill. 2. I don’t think I’ve ever seen pectination…

    Sent from my iPhone


    October 18, 2017 at 6:13 pm

  7. Alice Pratt

    Mary: I typed: Which birds grow pectination? had an interesting answer! Pectination on toe for grooming….also…an interesting blog.

    October 19, 2017 at 2:01 am

  8. Kathie Fiveash

    How amazing and wonderful.

    October 19, 2017 at 3:28 pm

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