Last evening I decided to go for a walk. I started through the woods in our back yard which connects to a nearby dirt road. Continuing down the road, I ended up in a clearing where the boys and I often shoot our guns. As I was standing there admiring nature I heard a noise similar to that of foraging squirrels.
But wait, it seemed more substantial than that.
As I patiently waited, out of the thicket emerged a ruffed grouse. How did I know it was a ruffed grouse? I’ll explain that shortly. For now, let’s focus on this particular encounter.
As I stood there almost motionless, except for the occasional swatting of flies, it walked right up to me, constantly pecking the ground for food.
I was a bit concerned what it might do, with its hawk-like beak, if it thought my toe was a worm. Fortunately, it was only interested in seeds and the like 🙂
After it circled me several times I decided to squat down for a closer look and to snap a picture.
I then put my hand out and it didn’t back up. This bird was simply NOT afraid! So, to test things I put my hand within striking distance and it did just that: it pecked me. Not enough to draw blood, but a good peck just the same!
OK, so you want to get aggressive?
I stood up and moved towards it and it still didn’t back down! Instead, it jumped in the air with wings fully spread in an attempt to look more fearsome and scare off its opposition.
A bit startled, I repeated this cycle of moving towards it, putting my foot out, etc. and it simply repeated its defensive posture of leaping, wings spread wide and making a pecking motion in mid air.
The reality is that, if necessary (and we needed dinner), I could have grabbed it by the neck or dropped a rock on its head and it would be all over.
Instead, I decided to walk away and let it live another day.
However, this thing seemed to be quite territorial as it kept circling me in what appeared to be an attempt to escort me from its turf. In fact, as I got back onto the dirt road it was still following me in the pucker brush, until it felt I was no longer in its space.
Now, how did I know that it was a ruffed grouse?
Earlier in the summer we had several encounters along our dirt road with a yet to be identified game-bird. A good name for it would have been a chicken, in that it would play chicken with our vehicle. Really!
We’d be driving down the road and this bird would dart out of the bushes and stop right in front of our vehicle. Slamming on the brakes (we weren’t going that fast as it is a bumpy dirt road) we’d stop to see if it emerged from either side of the vehicle. Nothing. So, we continued on our way.
This happened several times to Cindy, Evan, Ian and myself.
Cindy made several attempts to photograph it, but it is heavily camouflaged and difficult to see in the bush. My initial thought was that it was a partridge, although a dumb one…
Finally, we were able to get a better glimpse of it as it stood on the side of the road. And, Ian was able to snap a picture. Once we had that picture we went online.
Turns out it was a ruffed grouse.
Over the following weeks we saw it less and less, until no recent sightings had been made. We thought that it likely met its demise on the underside of a vehicle.
Well, last evening proves we still have a ruffed grouse in the neighborhood. Although, if this species isn’t careful it will go the way of the dodo bird.
That’s it for now!
Cindy and I are going for a walk to get the mail. It’s been a couple of days. You KNOW we are going to see if we can have another ruffed grouse encounter!