Weird Critter Profiles

This Bird Drums and Vibrates


My National Wildlife Federation colleague Dr. Doug Inkley shared this video and I just thought it, along with his commentary below, were awesome and needed to be shared.

 Dr. Inkley had this to say about it:

"One of my favorite birds…the ruffed grouse.

I studied these while at the University of Vermont. We would find a drumming log (the pile of scat is a dead give-away), then at night put a box trap on the log with a mirror on the inside end, open at the other end, pointing straight at where the male stands to ‘drum’. When the male drummer comes onto the drumming log at dawn (very early dawn), it sees its reflection in the mirror, and thinks it is a competitor and goes into the box trying to get to it, where upon it trips the door. Then we banded and released them for study.  

One time we found the trap closed with what seemed like a very heavy ruffed grouse. We set up to band it and then opened the trap. It was a snowshoe hare!! We didn’t band it.

It sounds (pardon the pun) weird, but when they are drumming, at the beginning of the roll, you (well, I did and so do some others) first ‘feel’ or sense the vibrations of the beating wings in your chest area, then you hear it as the drumming accelerates. It was very reliable and unmistakable.

They sometimes drum in the fall, too. Probably a territory thing." 

Have you ever seen a ruffed grouse in the wild?


Photo by Tim Lenz via Flickr Creative Commons. 

David Mizejewski is a naturalist with the National Wildlife Federation. His goal is to inspire others to appreciate the wonders of nature. Meet David >







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