The Ruffed Grouse is one of the most popular grouse species in the United States and very sought after. Being a game bird, it is popular to aviculturists, breeders, and the hunter as well. Grouse meat is favored among hunters and the pelts are used as decorative pieces. The Ruffed Grouse is a hardy bird and can adapt to many climates, including cold ones. If you are wanting to experience the beauty of this wild yet exotic game bird to breed or enjoy in your aviary, this is the species for you!
Description: This species is gray and brown mottled with spots of two shades. The male has a large brown ruffed neck and large crest on his head. The female has a smaller crest on her head. The male Ruffed Grouse makes a beautiful drumming sound used to attract his mates. The drumming is created by beating his wings against the wind. This causes a vacuum and creates this unusual yet amazing sound. The tail spreads out during the male display. The female will not drum but does have a strutting behavior. The two can be visually differentiated by their tail as adults. The male has what is called a broken tail band. The female does not have this.
Range: This species of grouse is a popular one and has a wide range throughout North America. Their range is from Alaska, to the western United States, all the way to Minnesota and the midwest. There are some Ruffed grouse found in the Appalachians all the way to northern Georgia. This is a growing species and highly sought after one.
Habitat: Ruffed grouse can be found in the woodlands, coastal rainforests, and deciduous forests.
Status in the Wild: Due to hunting and many introductions for sport, the Ruffed Grouse is plentiful.
Status in Aviculture: The Ruffed Grouse is one of the most common grouse species seen in aviaries.
Breeding and Incubation: The Ruffed Grouse is a solitary species, such that they do not develop a monogamous relationship with their mate. A clutch consists of 8 to 14 buff colored eggs and the incubation duration is 24-26 days. The chicks that hatch are precocial, that is they are able to feed and care for themselves as soon as they dry off. They begin flying at 5 days old. At around 16-18 weeks the juvenile grouse breaks away from its family and finds it own place to settle.
Lifespan: Ruffed Grouse have a short life span in the wild. The longest recorded life span for a chick was 8 years of age. In captivity they can live much longer.
Mature Weight: 17-25 ounces
Housing Requirements: Ruffed Grouse should be in a closed in aviary set up. Shrubs and small trees should be added to give them a more natural forest habitat. Make sure the aviary is predator proof since hawks and other predators find grouse a delicacy.
Diet: A diet high in protein is required for raising Ruffed Grouse. In the wild, Ruffed Grouse chicks feed on insects and animal protein. Depending on the time of year and what food is available at the time, the adults feed on insects and leaves or flower buds. In captivity both chicks and adults require a game bird feed of 24% protein or more as well as plants and insects to stabilize their diet.