The Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) is a cool northwoods find for us in the Birdfreak world. Visits to our relatives in Park Falls, Wisconsin – the “Ruffed Grouse Capital of the World” – give us the opportunity to see not only the Ruffed Grouse, but other northern species such as the Gray Jay (a species that is becoming a “Veery nemesis”).
We look forward to “shooting” this game bird with our camera when we travel north. Since we cannot find this species in Winnebago County, Illinois I was surprised to find that they do have a more southern range…never really thought about it before other than “north of Rockford”. Ruffed Grouse are native in Missouri but had all but disappeared due to deforestation. Their current distribution is the result of reintroduction efforts by the Missouri Department of Conservation.
Ruffed grouse prefer young forests with many small trees or brush. Before settlement by Europeans, ruffed grouse probably inhabited forest edges and young forests created by natural disturbances such as lightning fires and tornadoes. Following settlement, grouse became more abundant as forests were cleared for homesteads and then later abandoned to regrow into young forests. – Missouri Department of Conservation
The Ruffed Grouse found in Missouri are red phase while in the north they are mainly gray phase. We look forward to adding this to the Missouri List.