Ruffed Grouse Bonasa umbellus

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Identification

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Well-camouflaged chickenlike bird. Intricately patterned plumage varies from cold gray to rich reddish-brown. Look for relatively long, squared tail with dark band near the tip, bold barring on the sides, and small pointed crest. Typically shy and difficult to see well. Often flushed from the forest floor, exploding into the air with a startling burst of wingbeats and then gliding down towards the next hiding place. Sometimes ventures onto roadsides to pick up grit. In spring, males beat wings against their chest to produce a distinctive low-pitched drumming sound. Widespread and locally fairly common across northern North America, from the Appalachians to Alaska. Especially fond of forested areas with dense understory and secondary growth.

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