I was working on the sorting the hike pictures from last May (still not done!), and decided to share this ruffed grouse.
It's a very common game bird of North America. It has a ruff of feathers around its neck that it can flare, and is most often heard rather than seen. The males "drum" to attract females. They beat their wings quickly and it sounds a lot like someone trying to start a lawnmower with a pull cord. Very much like a put-put-put-put that then dies down like it didn't catch.
It didn't focus as well, but here is a closeup of the head. See its little crest? I kept this picture, even though it's not crisp, because it does have that crest raised. They also spread their tails into a fan, but I didn't get a picture of that.
And, they often lose feathers that you will find in the woods. When you walk nearby, usually one or even a whole group, will suddenly burst into the air going in all directions at once. This is to confuse predators, and it really is very startling! Although it's possible to find an occasional feather from any bird, this tail feather from a ruffed grouse is very common. So common that I've pretty much stopped picking them up.
Hope you enjoyed a little trip to the spring woods.
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