Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus)

Ruffed Grouse

[order] GALLIFORMES | [family] Phasianidae | [latin] Bonasa umbellus | [UK] Ruffed Grouse | [FR] Gelinotte huppee | [DE] Kragenhuhn | [ES] Grevol Engolado | [NL] Kraaghoen


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Tetrastes umbellus
Bonasa umbellus NA Alaska, Canada, n USA
Bonasa umbellus affinis British Columbia (Canada) to c Oregon USA)
Bonasa umbellus brunnescens Vancouver I. (Canada)
Bonasa umbellus castanea Olympic Pen. (USA)
Bonasa umbellus incana se Idaho to c Utah (USA)
Bonasa umbellus labradorensis Labrador Pen. (Canada)
Bonasa umbellus mediana nc USA
Bonasa umbellus monticola c and ec USA
Bonasa umbellus obscura n Ontario (Canada)
Bonasa umbellus phaios se British Columbia (Canada) to sc Idaho and e Oregon (USA)
Bonasa umbellus sabini w coast of Canada and USA
Bonasa umbellus togata nc and ne USA, se Canada
Bonasa umbellus umbelloides se Alaska (USA) thru c Canada
Bonasa umbellus umbellus ec USA
Bonasa umbellus yukonensis Alaska (USA), nw Canada

Physical charateristics

Note the fan-shaped tail, with a broad black band near the tip. A large, red-brown or gray-brown,
chickenlike bird of brushy woodlands, usually not seen until it flushes with a startling whir. Two color morphs: “Red” birds with rufous tails, and “gray” birds with gray tails. Red birds are more common in southern parts of range, gray birds northward o
r at higher altitudes.

Listen to the sound of Ruffed Grouse

[audio: Grouse.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 56 cm wingspan max.: 64 cm
size min.: 41 cm size max.: 48 cm
incubation min.: 21 days incubation max.: 24 days
fledging min.: 1 days fledging max.: 1 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 10  
      eggs max.: 14  


North America : Alaska, Canada, North USA


Ground and understory of deciduous or mixed woods.
Over its wide range, found in a variety of woodland types. May favor mixed coniferous-deciduous forest, using coniferous trees for shelter, taking buds of deciduous trees as a staple winter food. Seldom found in pure coniferous forest.


In spring, on log or other raised perch, male fans tail, raises crest and neck ruffs, and struts back and forth. Uses rapid stiff beats of wings to make accelerating “drummin
g” sound. Female is attracted to sound, mates with male. One male may mate with several females.
Nest: Site is on ground in dense cover, usually next to log, rock, or base of tree, or under dense shrubs. Nest (built by female) is a depression lined with leaves, grass, pine needles, often a few feathers.
Eggs: Usually 9-12, sometimes 6-15. Buff, sometimes spotted with brown. Incubation is by female only, about 23-25 days.
Young: Downy young leave nest soon after hatching. Female tends young and leads them to feeding sites, but young feed themselves. Young can make short flights at age of 1-2 weeks, but not full grown for several more weeks.

Feeding habits

Omnivorous. Feeds mostly on plant material. Diet includes buds, twigs, leaves, flowers, catkins, berries, seeds. Also eats insects, spiders, snai
ls, occasionally small snakes or frogs. Diet varies with season, includes many fruits and berries during summer and fall. Buds of trees are important in diet in winter, especially in far north, where food on ground is buried by snow. Young eat mostly inse
cts at first.
Behavior: Forages on ground, in shrubs, or high in trees.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Ruffed Grouse status Least Concern


Alaska, Canada, northern United States.
Migration: Permanent resident, but may make short seasonal movements to areas with more dense cover for winter.

Distribution map

Ruffed Grouse distribution range map

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