Ruffed Grouse

photo by Phil Swanson

Bonasa umbellus
L 17″(43 cm).

Song or calls:
Drumming display of male, hollow accelerating beats made with wings. Otherwise usually quiet.

Description: Mottled brown, gray-brown cross-barring below. Slight crest on head. Tail is fan-shaped with dark band near tip. Male has black ruff feathers that can be erected. Female plainer with smaller ruff.

Habitat: Deciduous woodland.

Where in Nebraska: Extirpated from Nebraska. Was a permanent resident of Missouri Valley forests in beginning of 1900’s. No sighting records since 1973.

Status: Unsuccessful releases of Ruffed Grouse were made during 1968 in Nemaha county, Nebraska.

Fun Facts: Ruffed Grouse grow projections on their toes before winter, possibly to help them walk on top of snow much like snowshoes. 

male Ruffed Grouse - photo by Phil Swanson female Ruffed Grouse - photo by Phil Swanson.
(click image for larger view)