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Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus)

ruffed grouse


  • Ruffed grouse are about 43 centimetres (17 inches) long on average.


  • The name "ruffed" grouse refers to the ruff of black feathers on each side of the bird's neck.
  • Ruffed grouse are found in all life zones except the treeless alpine.
Natural History


  • Habitat includes Alberta's mixed-wood and deciduous forests.
  • On the prairie, they can be found in farm woodlots and treed prairie coulees.


  • Seeds, leaves, fruits and berries are principal foods in spring and summer.
  • Poplar and willow buds make up the bulk of their diet in winter.
Reproduction and Growth

Breeding Behaviour

  • In the spring the male attracts hens by strutting along his "drumming log" with ruffs extended, wings trailing, and tail fanned. Occasionally he beats the air with his wings, making the low drumming that is a familiar sound in Alberta.
  • After mating, the hen usually chooses a nest site under or near a fallen log. She lays from 8 to 14 buff, unspotted eggs.
  • Bushy sites are chosen as brood-rearing areas, and families may be found together until fall.
  • Family groups disperse before winter because the ruffed grouse is basically a solitary bird. However, in late winter afternoons and early mornings, two to eight birds may be found together roosting in trees and feeding on buds.
Conservation and Management


Ruffed grouse are classified as Secure in the General Status of Alberta Wild Species report. See:

Current management


Specific season information is provided in the current Alberta Guide to Hunting Regulations. To view the guide online or to order a printed copy, visit the My Wild Alberta website at:


Page Information

Posted: Apr 7, 2009