Posts Tagged ‘grouse’

Ruffed grouse tracks


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Startled Grouse-Golden retriever Owen Gromme

This scene makes me quite nostalgic.

I had a dog that looked just like this one who loved to flush ruffed grouse. If there was a grouse in the woods, she’d find it!

Americans have no real problem with using retrievers as spaniels. In fact, because our hunting culture is much more egalitarian than that of the UK, it would make sense that Americans would prefer to have a dog capable of doing multiple tasks.

After all, waterfowl hunting in the United States is very strictly regulated by federal law, and the limits and seasons are quite finite.

Why own a dog that only hunts those birds?

All of these retriever breeds are very easy to train dogs, so we’ve usually let them moonlight as spaniels (and other things, including coonhounds!)

In fact, golden retrievers in particular are often used solely as flushing dogs in parts of the Midwest, where their prowess in hunting grouse and pheasant and very high trainability makes some people prefer them over traditional spaniels.


 According to The Art Barbarians website, where you can see a much higher resolution image of this painting:

This flushing Rough [sic] Grouse And Golden Retriever was painted by and released as a signed and numbered Artwork on sale by Owen Gromme. Born in 1896 in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Owen Gromme went to work at the age of 21 as a taxidermist at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. After World War I, Gromme worked at the Milwaukee County Museum as a taxidermist, collector, photographer, movie editor, background painter, botanist, geologist, sculptor, and finally curator of birds and mammals. He retired in 1965 to devote full time to his painting. He first gained acclaim in 1945 when he won the Federal Duck Stamp competition. In 1963 Gromme completed to world acclaim a volume of scientific paintings called “Birds of Wisconsin,” He is referred to as the “Dean of American Wildlife Artists.” Owen Gromme died on October 29, 1991, at the age of 95.

Wisconsin and Minnesota were early bastians of the golden retriever in the United States, and a lot of working line dogs can be found in those two states today.



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Thunder chicken

Better known as the ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus).

Other aliases include “partridge” or “paatridge” (as it is known in New England), and in some regions, it is called a pheasant.

It is neither a partridge nor a pheasant.

It’s a woodland grouse that is most closely related to the hazel grouse (Bonasa bonasia) of Northern Eurasia and the Severtzov’s grouse (Bonasa sewerzowi) of the mountains of Central China.

My grandpa always told me that this was the bird they ate for Thanksgiving every year.

Market turkeys weren’t available during the Depression.

But shot was cheap, and the grouse were quite common.

So that’s what they ate.

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Ruffed grouse can be very curious toward people, and some can become quite tame.

I know of at least one hunt club that fell apart because someone shot someone’s “pet” grouse. There were other reasons, but killing that grouse touched things off.

Although many ruffed grouse can be tame in this fashion, no one has tamed them. I may be wrong about this, but I believe that no one has ever bred one in captivity.

It is a shame, because these animals seem to have temperaments that make them suited for domestication.

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It’s Thanksgiving, so I have to do something on turkeys.

And turkeys, like a lot of gallinaceous birds, have these unique courtship motor patterns.

They do display them at relatively early age.

The adult version is far more dramatic:


Sometimes hen turkeys will go into this same motor pattern and gobble:


Now, turkeys can be made to gobble at virtually any weird sound, and it is also easy to get them to puff up and display.

However, the actual strutting behavior is a courtship motor pattern.

Of course, it is nothing like the courship motor patterns of the sage grouse, which is far more bizarre. The following was filmed using a “Fembot” sage grouse hen:


Over the generations,  certain hens in various chicken-like birds have selected for unusual motor patterns in their mates.   If a male can develop such weird behavior and have such extravagant display plumage, he must be a healthy bird with good genes to pass onto the next generation. Of course, she’s not reasoning that way, but her brain is wired to find these features attractive or at least somewhat novel. Eventually, the “aesethic sense” becomes as deeply ingrained in her DNA as the display motor pattern is in the male.

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