Yesterday I was out checking our game monitoring cameras and was pleasantly surprised with the number of ruffed grouse broods encountered. We ran into six different broods, which is a lot. Brood size was hard to tell, as the poults were as small as a tennis ball, to big sparrow size. Even the smallest ones had some ability to fly, although most just scurried away and hid in thick vegetation. Most times we only saw three or four, although once we counted six. I’m sure the four days of cold and rain we just had resulted in some mortality, but even if brood size isn’t huge, at least there seems to be a lot. Out grad student says he and his assistant have been seeing 4-5 ruffed grouse broods every day, so it certainly seems like numbers are up. I guess the adults came through the winter in good condition – grouse don’t mind the cold as long as the snow is deep and fluffy, which it was.
Interestingly, none of the hen grouse did their classic ‘I have a broken wing’ routine. They did do a lot of mewing and caterwauling, but none of that fake broken wing stuff they are noted for. And none attacked me either, which has happened to me in the past.
At any rate, for those of us who like to see, hunt and eat ruffed grouse, 2014 just might be a banner year in northwestern Ontario.