Ruffed Grouse are mostly quiet, but they do make sounds. Female calls include a nasal squeal or hiss-like alarm call, and a pete-pete-peta-peta call made before flushing. They quiet chicks with a scolding call and emit a low, cooing hum to gather their brood. Male calls include a hiss note, a queet call prior to flushing, and a whining call triggered by females or other males near the drumming site.
The male Ruffed Grouse’s unique drumming display takes place from atop a low log, stump, or rock. The deep, thumping sound starts slowly and builds to a blurred crescendo as the bird rapidly rotates his wings back and forth. A drumming sequence last lasts 8–10 seconds, during which the wings may beat up to 50 times. Displays are most frequent just before and after sunrise, although they can continue into early evening. Listen for male’s drumming on moonlit nights, too.