We are still seeing lots of Ruffed grouse around the property. When I spot them at a distance I often first think I’m seeing a bird of prey as the size, coloration and shape of beak is similar to some of the hawks. The grouse are sometimes seen roosting or feeding in the trees but more often I see them on the ground at the edge of cover. Like the ground-feeding Woodcocks and Partridges they are very well camouflaged, tend to move slowly, or not at all and will only suddenly take flight once you get too close. We’ve all experienced going for a calm and relaxing walk in the forest only to have it dramatically interrupted by an explosion of feathers at our feet, noise and the quick movement of something surprisingly large bursting from the forest floor. By the time we realize what it was, and that we’re not under attack, it’s sailing off to another part of the forest. It’s particularly startling to have happen when you’re also keeping a constant eye out for bears out there! I almost think those birds enjoy being pranksters, creating moments of panic for hikers and turning what should be a relaxing walk into a series of startling events.
Grouse like to peck and wander around like stray chickens on the quiet Muskoka country roads. Ruffed grouse are about the size, at least visually, of a small chicken and their average weight is just over a pound. This one was seen pecking on the road and as I approached it made a dash into the forest around our house.