The Ruffed Grouse are chunky birds at 40 to 50 cm (16 to 20 in) in length, with a short wingspan of 50 to 64 cm (20 to 25 in) and weighing from 450 to 750 g. These birds have two distinct morphs( i.e forms) , grey and brown. In the grey form, the head, neck and back are grey-brown; the breast is light with barring. The underside and flanks have got more white. Brown-morph birds have tails of the same color and pattern, but the rest of the plumage is much more brown, giving the appearance of a more uniform bird with less light plumage below and a grey tail. In both sexes, the ruffs are on the sides of the neck.
Habitat and Distribution
The bird occurs in forests from the Appalachian Mountains across Canada to Alaska. It is non-migratory. They spend most of their time on the ground, mixed woodland rich in aspen seems to be particularly well-liked.
These birds forage on the ground or in trees. They are omnivores, eating buds, leaves, berries, seeds, and insects.
The couple builds the a cupped nest in a tree using twigs, sticks, grass, and leaves. The clutch size is 1 to 5 eggs that are light greenish-bluish is colour with red spots.
Calls and Songs
The Ruffed Grouse differs from other grouse species in its courtship display. Unlike other grouse species, the Ruffed Grouse relies entirely on a non-vocal acoustic display, known as drumming. The drumming itself is a rapid, wing-beating display that creates a low frequency sound, starting slow and speeding up (thump...thump...thump..thump-thump-thump-thump). Even in thick woods this can be heard for a quarter mile or more (~1/2 km).