• Skip to Content
  • Skip to Main Navigation
  • Skip to Local Navigation
  • Skip to Search
  • Skip to Sitemap
  • Skip to Footer
Help develop a Bird ID tool!

Ruffed Grouse

Bonasa umbellus ORDER: GALLIFORMES FAMILY: PHASIANIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

The dappled, grayish or reddish Ruffed Grouse is hard to see, but its “drumming on air” display is a fixture of many spring forests. It can come as a surprise to learn this distant sound, like an engine trying to start, comes from a bird at all. This plump grouse has a cocky crest and a tail marked by a broad, dark band near the tip. Displaying males expose a rich black ruff of neck feathers, giving them their name.

eBird, submit your observations
Birds of North America Online

Find This Bird

Seeing the secretive Ruffed Grouse can be quite difficult—although it can be easy to hear them when they are drumming. To track one down, note the locations where you hear drumming males—this is generally most frequent very early in the morning. Otherwise, you may encounter foraging birds simply by walking slowly and quietly through appropriate forest, or while driving along narrow forested roads. In winter, watch for Ruffed Grouse feeding on deciduous-tree buds in bare treetops along a road.