Red Ruffed Grouse Hatching Eggs
Hatching eggs are a great way to start your flock of Red Ruffed Grouse. Ruffed Grouse are dramatic additions to any avian collection, and they are extremely popular game birds. They are gorgeous birds; both sexes are crested and well-patterned, with males also sporting a ruff of feathers around the neck that are raised while displaying. The heavily banded tail feathers are captivating, and males will spread them into a peacock-like half circle. These eggs are for the red morph, which is found in Ruffed Grouse of the Appalachian region of North America. The ruff and overall feathering will be warmer in tone with deep shades of burnt sienna and rusts.
Ruffed Grouse are great birds for the collection as well as for hunters and gourmet food production. Grouse meat is much sought-after. They are also extremely active with dramatic breeding displays.
Range: Ruffed Grouse are commonly found throughout the northern areas of the U.S. and throughout Canada. They are also the most widely distributed of all game birds in North America, are found naturally in all of the Canadian Provinces and 38 of the United States.
Habitat: Red Ruffed Grouse are usually found in forests and woodlands made up of broadleaf or coniferous trees.
Status in the Wild: The red morph of the Ruffed Grouse is less common in the wild than the gray or black morph. Although Ruffed Grouse are hunted and have to deal with habitat destruction, they are still very plentiful in the wild.
Status in Aviculture: Of the ten species of native grouse, the Ruffed Grouse is one of the most popular. They adapt well to captivity. The red morph is harder to find in captivity.
Breeding: The breeding season starts in spring, which is kicked off by the males doing their drumming displays. The drumming sound is created by the bird compressing air between his body and his rapidly beating wings. It is a haunting sound. Male Red Ruffed Grouse will also raise his crest, neck ruff, and fan out his tail as part of his whirring display. Drumming deters other males and attracts females. Courtship is brief, and females nest alone, laying 8-14 eggs. Incubation is 21-28 days in a small nest made as a depression next to a log, boulder, or stump for protection.
Once hatched, the chicks are quick to become independent. They are considered precocial, meaning that they are all set to start feeding themselves as soon as they have fully dried from hatching. They begin to fly at five days old. The young birds are ready to go their separate ways and set up their territories in about 84 days.
Lifespan: Ruffed Grouse can live up to 8 years old if kept safe and in proper conditions. In the wild, they are unfortunately quite short-lived.
Size: Mature Red Ruffed Grouse weigh between 1 and 1.5 pounds. They are about 17 inches long with wingspans of 22-25 inches.
Housing Requirements: Red Ruffed Grouse are very hardy throughout all areas of North America. They do spook easily though and should be kept in pens without any dog pressure or exposure to loud noises and predators. Like many game bird species, they tend to fly straight up when startled and can injure their heads or even break their necks if the top of the enclosure is too hard. A soft netting top works best. Also, Ruffed Grouse will need to be kept in separate enclosures for much of the year, as they can get aggressive with one another. Roosts should be raised as they prefer to sleep as high up as possible. Providing your grouse with natural cover such as shrubs and logs will make them feel more comfortable.
Diet: Chicks and breeding pairs will require a high protein diet. A high-quality game bird feed would be quite adequate. Adding extras to the diet or access to insects would provide diversity and be very beneficial. Grouse require more grit than chickens, be sure to provide chick-sized grit for your grouse. Apple Cider vinegar can be added to their water (about 1 shot glass per gallon of water) for preventing fungal issues. Cranberries make an excellent addition to the weekly ration.
Miscellaneous Notes: Ruffed Grouse are often referred to as "Woodland Drummers" in acknowledgment of the fabulous drumming noise males make during the breeding season. The sound can be heard for half a mile and is so low in pitch that it is difficult to believe it is coming from a small game bird. A male Ruffed Grouse in the wild will usually find a log that will become his official drumming log, which acts as a stage for his drumming to defend and delineate his territory.