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Paul Higgins | profile | all galleries >> Grouse, Ruffed tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Grouse, Ruffed

April 19th and 20th, 2008, Box Elder County, Utah. I spent both mornings "blinded" up with this "drummmer boy". He is an older male standing on his log drumming ro attract a mate or at least sex. To me, it was a magic experience. It is my understanding that they will use the same log form year to year...hope to see him again next year.

I am adding a comment by my good friend Kris Purdy about his toes:
It's wonderful to see how you documented the drumming sequence, but I also have to say I love the shots that show the black ruff and the bird's toes. He's still wearing his snowshoes. Here's what Cornell's Birds of North America says about the small growths on either side of the toes: Toothlike pectinations grow from lateral scales on toes in fall and are shed the following spring. Growth of pectinations begins in mid-Sep and lasts for about 3 wk (Trainer 1947). Pectinations break off irregularly in late Apr or early May, but may be shed as early as late Mar (Trainer 1947). These “snowshoes” facilitate Ruffed Grouse in walking on surface of snow by increasing surface area of feet. Length of pectinations averaged 2 mm in New York (Trainer 1947), but vary by geographic region (Uttal 1941). Ruffed Grouse in northern areas with severe winters have pectinations twice as long as those in more southerly regions.
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