Montana Outdoors

December 4, 2008

Cold duck… er, Grouse!

The temperature was 18 degrees this morning when I started up the Jeep but in the snow on the shady side of the Coeur d’Alenes and at 3,000 feet higher elevation where this little guy was standing it was in single digits. It’s truly amazing how they can live there!

Ruffed Grouse

Ruffed Grouse

Ruffed Grouse


  1. brrrr!! I think I’d stay back down somewhere like in the previous post!


    Comment by silken — December 4, 2008 @ 9:45 pm

  2. What a little cutie!! He doesn’t seem to be minding the cold much does he?


    Comment by gradschoolsara — December 4, 2008 @ 9:47 pm

  3. I know, Silken. That’s probably 70 degrees below your comfort zone!


    Comment by montucky — December 4, 2008 @ 10:33 pm

  4. Yes, he’s a pretty little guy, Sara. Probably one of this year’s crop spending his first winter. In the first photo he was all fluffed up staying nice and warm. That’s on that old road up toward Cherry Peak, by the way.


    Comment by montucky — December 4, 2008 @ 10:35 pm

  5. They are well-adapted to withstand the cold! Adorable too!


    Comment by Tabbie — December 5, 2008 @ 12:29 am

  6. Looks like he’s/she’s really fluffed those feathers out to stay warm! I always wonder about how they keep their feet warm,… no feathers there!


    Comment by Cedar — December 5, 2008 @ 5:48 am

  7. Reminds of the quail here in AZ…..they don’t have to deal with such cold and seem to “laugh” more!


    Comment by Maureen — December 5, 2008 @ 8:54 am

  8. While north Georgia is by no means THAT cold right now, I was watching nuthatches and cardinals around our bird feeders at 26 degrees, wondering the same thing. How do they survive when we have to bundle up in coats and gloves?

    Nice photo, as always.



    Comment by knightofswords — December 5, 2008 @ 9:28 am

  9. They are indeed, Tabbie. It was significant yesterday to see that, although there were noticeably warmer areas on the mountain, these guys were living in the coldest area of all.


    Comment by montucky — December 5, 2008 @ 10:21 am

  10. I wish I could fluff myself like that to stay warm.

    Actually, I suppose I could, but the end result would not only be useless, I would probably look a bit ridiculous.


    Comment by wolf — December 5, 2008 @ 10:25 am

  11. Cedar,

    They have special adapted heat exchange systems in their feet, much like water fowl, where the arteries and veins are very close to each other, keeping an adequate amount of heat available to the feet. At night, when it’s coldest, they can shelter their feet by fluffing up their feathers too. It is amazing though when it gets well below zero!


    Comment by montucky — December 5, 2008 @ 10:35 am

  12. Maureen,

    These little guys are quite a bit larger than quail. You reminded me of one of the things I miss so much about Arizona, seeing the quail, especially the Gambel’s!


    Comment by montucky — December 5, 2008 @ 10:37 am

  13. Hearty little bugger. Gonna have to get me an attitude like that.


    Comment by Pinhole — December 5, 2008 @ 10:38 am

  14. Malcolm,

    I’ve long been fascinated at the survival ability of birds, especially those that winter in the really cold areas. We have Chickadees here all year and they have very special abilities, such as hiding their food and being able to remember up to a thousand locations. They also have the ability to reduce their body temperature by up to 14 degrees at night during cold spells to conserve energy. (I still like to keep the ones around here especially well fed in winter.)


    Comment by montucky — December 5, 2008 @ 10:46 am

  15. Wolf,

    Me too, but I do the next best thing: wear goose-down jackets and vests. Incredible insulation qualities!


    Comment by montucky — December 5, 2008 @ 10:47 am

  16. Pinhole,

    I think you’re right about attitude! We would complain very loudly about having to live under the conditions they do and yet they always appear cheerful and optimistic. (They also seem to really enjoy scaring the heck out of a person by waiting until almost stepped on to flush.)


    Comment by montucky — December 5, 2008 @ 10:49 am

  17. Brrr! Hope he knows it’s going to get a lot colder before it gets warmer. But wait, he’s bird…of course he knows that.


    Comment by Bo — December 8, 2008 @ 8:30 am

  18. I think he’ll be a lot warmer as soon as the snow really starts to pile up. These grouse will bury beneath the snow on the cold nights where it acts as insulation as well as a good hiding place. I worry about them when they don’t have that option.


    Comment by montucky — December 8, 2008 @ 9:19 am

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