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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm interested in grouse habits.

Often I see grouse on high ground quite a ways from water. Does anyone know if they need to drink every day or does their feed provide enough water, along with dew droplets, I suppose.

What about flight and travel patterns. They seem to have no problem flying several hundred yards. I wonder about how far they disperse in fall and what kinds of terrain they prefer in different seasons.

Does anyone know any good sources of info on grouse, in general not just hunting them?

I observe a fair amount of this stuff myself but I am interested in studies and others' observations.
 

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If you can get into a university library somewhere and search the Journal of Wildlife Management there are some interesting articles in there about grouse. Also try the Ruffed Grouse Society - they must have a website.
 

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I am no expert on grouse (or "Birch Partridge" if you will)by any means. But I have spent a fair bit of time in the woods observing them, and hunting them as well. Not to mention "eating" them! ..mmm..mmm

I would assume that they need water every day. Although some of their food choices, such as Poplar or "Popal" (as I call them) "leaves" for instance contain some moisture.

They always say..find a water source such as a brook, and you will find grouse not far away. This is true. But even when they wander far from a brook, they are usually not very far from some form of it. Puddles, old road ditches etc, even rain caught in folded leaves etc.

A grouse can fly so good, that he can get back to his brook pretty quick at any rate. I have seen them picking buds, high up in the only big yellow birch tree, left uncut.. way out in the middle of a cutting. They will go to where the food sources are as per season.

And as far as favorite foods go. They love poplar leaves in early fall, apples of course, thornberrys (as well as almost any berry or seed probably)Beach-nuts, alder buds, ferns, and their very favorite late fall food. Yellow Birch buds. They will feed at the same tree repeatedly for days on end in late November and December. These late season foods, contain little moisture, and so would require extra to digest.

They can store a fair bit of food in their crop to last all night. But this food contains very little nutrients compared to domestic bird feed. So to keep up their energy levels, and to help store fat for the cold winter months, they will need to feed again in the morning. And even through the day as it gets colder. They will develop a ring of fat around the bottom of the breast muscle. This is most evident on birds taken very late in the season. This will be reserves for the hard winter ahead. Of course "grit" helps them to grind their food in their gizzard. And they will pick for gravel on the old woods roads to obtain this.

At night, they will roost in softwood trees. But in winter like to huddle in under fir and spruce boughs on the ground as well. This habit can cost them their life during a winter rain storm. If the snow crusts over, and they become encased under it.

They truly are a beautiful, and remarkably resourceful bird. For a hen partirdge to hatch a clutch of eggs. And then keep track of, and raise a brood of tiny chicks to adulthood. With all of the dangers of predators, and have most of them survive to adulthood is really amazing.

Hope this helps you a bit redtail.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Yes, they are a very interesting bird. A couple of times I have noticed their nests in the spring with an amazing number of eggs in it. They're lucky if a handful of the chicks survive until fall.

Thanks for the reply.
 

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Your welcome redtail! I didn't mention white birch buds as well which they also eat. But they seem to prefer the Yellow more I think. Clover is another food you will find in their crop from time to time. And I have seen them "budding" (in fair numbers)up in these hardwoods in the "spring", as well as the fall.
 

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If you can find some poison ivy you should find some grouse, they love the green berries this time of year from the poison ivy. They also love hanging out under hawthorne bushes, eating the red haw berries and staying safe in the thorns. They love to sun themselves on rocks along farmers fields, and sand baths to remove mites if you can find a sunny sandy place in the bush. Drummers are usually found standing on an old log
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Yes, I have seen them on winter evenings just at dark budding in poplar and white birch trees. They don't waste any time filling their crops on a cold evening.
 

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That brings back fond memories, we used to have a 1/2 dozen budding the poplars behind the house in Centreville most evenings in early December. Used to watch them out the back door many an evening.

Does anyone know of a good seed mix to do up for partridge in the winter time?
 

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That brings back fond memories, we used to have a 1/2 dozen budding the poplars behind the house in Centreville most evenings in early December. Used to watch them out the back door many an evening.

Does anyone know of a good seed mix to do up for partridge in the winter time?
I am pretty sure the Ruffed Grouse Society sells some kind of trail mix designed for the birds, you can check into that on their website.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I cleaned a bird yesterday - it's innards were larded with fat - no doubt from raiding squirrel caches of soybeans from a nearby field.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
They are often in cranberries now just before dark. They will come to risky areas along roads in the minutes before dark and fill up quickly with the red berries.

They can be found along dirt roads and line fences in the cranberry bushes at this time.

My son saw several along the divided highway at dusk the other evening - in cranberries bushes - in the median area between the lanes!
 
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