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Author Topic: Wildlife highlight: ruffed grouse  (Read 1297 times)

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Wildlife highlight: ruffed grouse

Here’s a bird that drums up excitement every fall: the ruffed grouse!

This woodland bird is the most popular of Minnesota’s upland game birds. They range throughout Minnesota forest land from the southeastern hardwood forests to the northwestern aspen forests.

Young to middle-aged aspen forests are some of the best fall habitat for ruffed grouse. These birds eat the buds and twigs of aspen along with the fruits of dogwood, mountain ash and thornapple. These solitary birds spend most of their lives within just a few acres.

During spring, male ruffed grouse will perform a mating ritual that sounds like the beating of a distant drum. The male “drums” by compressing air beneath its wings while standing on a log or boulder.

Many animals hunt ruffed grouse, including hawks, owls, fox, fisher and bobcat. People also love to hunt and eat grouse. Ruffed grouse populations at northern latitudes rise and fall at intervals of about 10 years. The causes of these cycles are still being studied, but researchers think the cycles may be related to climate and predation. Learn more about this spunky woodland bird on the DNR website.

Photo courtesy of Kalli Hawkins
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