[midvalleybirds] Grouse with kids

Jim Fairchild alderspring at peak.org
Wed Jul 3 22:46:03 PDT 2019

Lucky for me when my dog was delayed and otherwise occupied on a walk this
morning, when a Grouse bolted out of bracken ferns and grass cover directly
beside me into the wooded cover nearby.  It left behind maybe a dozen
precocial nestlings, who immediately started peeping and scampering as if
they'd never lost their mother before.  I backtracked to keep the dog from
tuning in on the chicks.

We used to have Ruffed Grouse hereabouts most years, and have found nests,
but it's been decades since we've heard drumming and in recent years we have
sometimes missed them entirely.  There are Sooty Grouse at higher elevations
nearby but we've never detected them here.  Mostly now we have turkeys with
young, and occasionally either mountain or valley (California) quail.

I didn't get a good look at the fleeing parent, though it seemed to have the
dark subterminal band on the tail of a Ruffed Grouse, but the nestlings
appeared heavily striped as they scampered and peeped through the grass and
bracken.  Our one book with illustrations of nestlings (Nest, Eggs and
Nestlings of N. American Birds, Baicich & Harrison) started me thinking
these fairly heavily streaked youngsters might be Sooties rather than Ruffed


Any guidance on better discerning the young is welcome.  And I'll take a
camera and not the dog when looking for them tomorrow.

Jim Fairchild

Central Benton County, 5 mi. SW of Philomath

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