DESCRIPTION Ruffed Grouse are one of 10 species of grouse native to North America and are one of the smaller birds in the group, ranging from 17 to 25 oz. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Grouse notoriously eat a large range of foods throughout the year. It is the availability of high quality habitat and food that has brought them together. Northwind Enterprises, LLC firstname.lastname@example.org, Filed Under: Grouse Ecology, Habitat, Read Tagged With: forest habitat, habitat, ruffed grouse, winter, © 2019 • Ruffed Grouse Society & Food sources vary by region, but soft mast is a good place to start early in the season. Management opportunities for ruffed grouse and other forest wildlife in oak forests depend, in part, on the composition and arrangement of the principal tree, shrub, and herbaceous food and cover plants. When there is more than three or four inches of snow on the ground grouse tend to fly more than walk (unless the snow has a crust). Grouse forage among thickets of aspen, alder saplings and low-growing shrubs. When in a group, grouse remain individualists. However, food sources still need to be interspersed within protective cover and close to where they roost, loaf and sun themselves. The grouse will often feed on the hazel catkins in late fall and early winter before switching over to male aspen buds. Each will flush on their own accord when pressured. In fall, soft fruits and acorns become an important part of the diet. @2018 - TheUplandHunter.com. It is non-migratory. A mixture of oaks, aspen, and conifers are beneficial to grouse. When a grouse is in a burrow the temperature typically does not drop below 20 degrees Fahrenheit which conserves energy and maintains its reserves. The major advantage of a snow burrow, besides concealment, is the constant temperature within the burrow. Size: The length of male ruffed grouse is between 43 and 50 cm, whereas the females are between 40 and 47.Their wingspan length measures between 55.9 and 63.5 cm. Typically, in the Midwest when there is very little snow on the ground a grouse will use clusters of balsam fir, hemlock, cedar or even spruce. During the winter, grouse will typically eat two times a day. Winters are tough on everyone but when you consider how little insulation grouse have it’s pretty impressive that they simple live through it, let alone thrive in it. A grouse can be sustained in 10 to 20 acres if the habitat is ideal. In winter, roosting sites can be near the base of a tree, typically conifers, or a grouping of conifers. During this time of year, conserving energy is the main goal of ruffed grouse. I might serve pheasants with polenta, but I would never do that with a ruffed grouse… Acorns that fall on roads end up getting smashed as folks drive over them. The grouse group together this time of the year, not for security or for a social gathering, but because there is good food and cover in a single location. Where they used to eat everything from buds to berries, now they are going to focus much more on the buds & catkins (those little budding spikes that resemble the starts of branches) of small trees, primarily the following: Another major food source at this time of year for ruffed grouse is broken up acorns. However, when there is 10-12 inches of snow on the ground grouse prefer to burrow under the snow while roosting.Grouse will dive into the soft snow at an angle and burrow into the snow, moving away from the opening sometimes up to 15 or 20 feet. Examining food and cover necessary for winter grouse survival. Grouse can often be seen feeding in aspen tree as the sun sets when they are silhouetted in the afterglow. Before we dive into the list of what foods ruffed grouse eat, we want to mention that major factors in their diet are going to be the area they live in & the time of year it is. Grouse have been observed taking more than 47 bites per minute in the branches of male aspen trees. The ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus) is a medium-sized grouse occurring in forests from the Appalachian Mountains across Canada to Alaska. This is a major reason why road hunting seems to be so popular. The supply of the new buds & berries from the spring will start to dwindle, and they will start to rely on more of the traditional grouse hunting habitat for food. If it is bitter cold in the morning, a grouse may feed only once during the day. It’s during this time that ruffed grouse complete their transition to a diet that pretty much consists solely on the buds and catkins of the same small trees that they eat during the fall. Regardless of name, this shrub-type bush offers both food and cover for grouse. When in the burrow, the grouse will have 3 to 4 inches of snow cover above. These are the only real sources of food that they have left during this time of year, so if you’re trying to locate them you’ll definitely want to check out areas filled with these trees. The grouse will remain in its snow burrow, conserving energy before a late afternoon feeding. For more information about Scout-N-Hunt® Mobile Hunting Maps go to www.scout-n-hunt.com or www.mobilehuntingmaps.com . Sources: Ruffed Grouse Society. It is the only species in the genus Bonasa. Basically all we’re trying to say here is that you’ll have to use some common sense when it comes to narrowing down what foods ruffed grouse are eating in the area you’re hunting. Grouse Facts. Hazel will often be interspersed in aspen or in solid thickets of hazel brush. In order to do that, you’re going to figure out exactly what the ruffed grouse eat in your location. The grouse group together this time of the year, not for security or for a social gathering, but because there is good food and cover in a single location. All Right Reserved. During this time of year ruffed grouse’s diet will begin to shift towards a much more simple meal plan. In northern Wisconsin, winter regrouping of ruffed grouse starts to take place toward the end of October and the first part of November. In the springtime, they eat a diet consisting mainly of the following: Grouse chick’s diet normally consists mainly of insects as they grow, found both on the ground and located in trees. In either case, grouse are more vulnerable when they are unable to snow roost. Deep snow can prove to be a real hazard to turkey’s, whether food is present or not. At around 20 degrees Fahrenheit or below a grouse needs to speed up its metabolism in order to stay warm. Designed, Developed, & Operated by Red Leaf Media This site contains affiliate links to products. The larger the patch of hazel brush, the more secure a grouse feels to move freely about. Ruffed Grouse are somewhat larger than pigeons, living their entire lives in wooded areas. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that there aren’t going to be many insects & berries around for ruffed grouse to eat during the winter, but pinpointing their food sources can be a little more challenging if you haven’t scouted the area well. In northern Wisconsin, winter regrouping of ruffed grouse starts to take place toward the end of October and the first part of November. The aspen trees they feed in are typically over 25 years of age. A cluster of young pines is better suited than one single pine for thermal protection and safety. As trees grow, the spacing between the limbs becomes greater, thus allowing predators to perch in these trees and swoop in on unsuspecting grouse. The stout twigs that produce these buds will typically have five to eight buds on a twig, thus allowing the bird to feed very quickly without much movement which is critical as the birds are more vulnerable to predators while feeding. If a hen is in very poor condition in the spring, she may not be able to lay a clutch of eggs or raise a brood of chicks. When available, the food of choice is the male aspen bud. A ruffed grouse's daily routine is simple and driven by its stomach, and a savvy hunter will follow its food sources. Ruffed Grouse feed almost exclusively on vegetation, including leaves, buds, and fruits of ferns, shrubs, and woody plants. When snow levels are not sufficient for snow roosting, grouse are limited to thermal cover usually provided by conifer trees. Hazel offers excellent protection to feeding grouse. The ruffed grouse, however, is an enigma in the world of birds when it comes to winter survival.” – Read the Full Article: Ruffed Grouse in the Winter Time. 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