PENNSYLVANIA (WHTM) — There are many symbols of the state of Pennsylvania. One of those is the state bird, which is called a Ruffed Grouse.
So what is a Ruffed Grouse?
State Symbols USA said that the Ruffed Grouse was chosen as the state bird for Pennsylvania in 1931. It is considered a game bird that has been admired for its beauty. The Pennsylvania Game Commission says these birds are related to quails, pheasants, and turkeys.
All About Birds said these birds are roughly the same size as an American Crow but are smaller than a wild turkey. These birds have a short crest and a long, fan-shaped tail. They have short legs and often are slimmer than other grouse species. These are also sometimes called the partridge.
The ruffed grouse is usually patterned with dark bars and spots on a reddish-brown background. It is called the ‘ruffed’ grouse, due to its black or brown neck feathers, which the male flares into a ‘ruff’ during courtship displays or as a defense mechanism.
The male bird produces a unique sound with their wings. Called ‘drumming’ the grouse will stand tall and begin to fill the air by rotating its wings back and forth. The bird will start the drumming slowly but then will speed up until its wings become a blur. This sometimes can be heard as a drum roll. ABC Birds states that the ‘drumming’ could be heard as far away as a quarter of a mile.
This drumming is for both defense and for attracting a female. The Pennsylvania Game Commission says that you will hear the drumming sound most often during mating season, which occurs in March and April. Males will also fight and display for the females. displaying males fan their tails, have their ruffs encircle their heads, then hiss and drag their wingtips along the ground.
The Commission says these birds are shy and do not adapt well to civilization. Their range in Pennsylvania has decreased as forests have been converted to other uses, and large forest parcels have been broken into smaller pieces.
Populations are highest in regions that remain largely forested. Private forestlands are extremely important to future efforts to recover grouse populations, according to the Commission.