Wednesday, September 24, 2008
These birds certainly earned their nickname of "fool hen". The first one I saw on the wolf tracking was silhouetted against the road a couple hundred feet in front of us. It stayed there in plain sight until we were within a few feet when it finally moved off the road towards its chicks. Of course we would never have known the chicks were there if it had just faded into the woods after it had seen us initially.
Two more times that trip I was alerted to their presence by either the hen or one of the chicks moving or clucking as I got close to them. That seems a bit more forgiveable since they were at least in the woods and difficult to see. They probably would have been better off if they were still and silent there though. It makes me wonder how they manage to survive, and also if they are more successful than I realize - perhaps I passed near many more grouse families without ever realizing it.
I was out in the cascades last week and we saw a couple sets of grouse there, the young seemed to be nearly full-sized, but had a bit of fuzziness on their heads still. Unfortunately I was unable to get any pictures as my camera battery had run down by that point.
I'm not certain as to which species of grouse this is, most of the pictures I found of various species that would be around here did not look quite the same, but my best guess at the moment is Spruce Grouse (Dendragapus canadensis).