An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

Posts tagged “Partridge

Ruffed Grouse Nostril Feathers

12-16-14 ruffed grouse nostrils IMG_2376Ruffed Grouse have adapted to cold winter months in a number of ways, from growing “snowshoe” pectinations on their toes to having their legs covered with fine feathers. Equally effective are the feathers covering a grouse’s nostrils, which are thought to heat cold air as the bird breathes in. (Thanks to Sara and Warren Demont for photo op.)


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.)


Ruffed Grouse Eggs Hatching

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If you stumble, as I did, upon a female Ruffed Grouse whose eggs have recently hatched, be prepared for her fury! When I entered nearby woods, the mother charged at me with her crest raised, tail spread and ruffs (black neck feathers) erect. (Her chicks had dispersed prior to this, well hidden by their camouflaged down.) Fiercely protective, female grouse with young are known for their aggressive behavior. A large grouse might weigh two pounds – to tackle a human weighing more than 50 times as much as oneself is pretty impressive.