Montana Outdoors

October 24, 2014

Fool’s hens

Spruce Grouse

Spruce Grouse

Spruce Grouse

Spruce Grouse ~ Falcipennis canadensis

On a short hike across the north-facing slope below Sunset Peak in the Coeur d’Alene Mountains of western Montana the other day I came across a total of ten of these medium sized grouse whose species inhabits all of Canada and just the northernmost parts of the United States. Had I been a predator that day, I would have been well fed because they behave as their nickname implies, rather foolishly, letting me get within a few feet of them before they flew, depending to an amazing degree just on their camouflage alone. They weigh about a pound to a pound and a half and I have found them to be delicious.

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22 Comments »

  1. How lovely! What gorgeous little birds. They look and sound similar to our Ptarmigan in habit, as they tend to stay close to the ground too. They are only found on the highest scree summits.

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    Comment by Jo Woolf — October 25, 2014 @ 12:14 am

    • These are close relatives to the Ptarmigan and are often confused with the White-tailed Ptarmigan. Both are beautiful birds!

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      Comment by montucky — October 25, 2014 @ 9:09 am

  2. Wonderful capture, interesting post, thank you for sharing !

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    Comment by hihowsyou25 — October 25, 2014 @ 3:05 am

  3. Beautiful bird that’s apparently survives due to their camouflage.

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    Comment by centralohionature — October 25, 2014 @ 3:52 am

    • It’s hard to believe that they are not more skittish, but their strategy seems to work for them because they are not at all rare. In the vicinity of where these photos were taken I have seen coyote, bear and cougar and the tracks of bobcat and lynx, all of whom consider them to be prey.

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      Comment by montucky — October 25, 2014 @ 9:13 am

  4. That’s a pretty little bird!

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    Comment by New Hampshire Garden Solutions — October 25, 2014 @ 6:23 am

    • I love seeing them. Their feather patterns are amazing!

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      Comment by montucky — October 25, 2014 @ 9:16 am

  5. That’s some fabulous camouflage: certainly nothing for the bird to grouse about. I did go looking, and found that the bird called a grouse and the complainer who’s known as a grouse aren’t related — at least, etymologically. I’ll say this — I imagine it’s generally easier to spot the grouser than the grouse.

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    Comment by shoreacres — October 25, 2014 @ 8:38 am

    • To grouse and to be a grouse are clearly not related. The Spruce Grouse is even called the “silent” grouse sometimes because it makes fewer sounds than its relatives. I’ve seen my son hunt Blue Grouse by listening for their calls and he has had great success. Not so with the Spruce.

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      Comment by montucky — October 25, 2014 @ 9:19 am

  6. Yum, dinner!

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    Comment by Anonymous — October 26, 2014 @ 10:03 am

    • They would be good, but I won’t hunt them. Might go out for a few blues though.

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      Comment by montucky — October 26, 2014 @ 9:27 pm

  7. Hi Montucky, What a nice game bird to have spotted. Your photo is great! Have a wonderful day today!

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    Comment by wildlifewatcher — October 27, 2014 @ 9:17 am

    • I was very pleased to see them in good numbers! It speaks well for the environment there.

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      Comment by montucky — October 27, 2014 @ 1:55 pm

  8. Wow, what great images. I miss Bobwhites or Quails where I live. Pesticides supposedly have driven them away. Beautiful birds!

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    Comment by Boyd Greene Fine Art — October 27, 2014 @ 8:30 pm

    • It’s very sad to see wildlife disappear that way! These little guys are still safe from that because they live in a pretty remote place. I hope it always stays that way!

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — October 27, 2014 @ 10:17 pm

  9. Such pretty feathers, they’re almost tweed, very distinguished. I’m glad you didn’t eat any of them 🙂

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    Comment by Candace — October 27, 2014 @ 9:30 pm

    • I think they’re quite pretty too. No, I don’t hunt this species, or the Ptarmigan, or the Ruffed Grouse either for that matter. I will take a few Blues once in awhile though.

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      Comment by montucky — October 27, 2014 @ 10:20 pm

  10. Very enjoyable photos. I love Your nature photos very much.

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    Comment by Sartenada — November 6, 2014 @ 4:41 am

    • I’m glad that you enjoy the photos. I am seldom able to get good photos of wildlife here because they are usually very wild, and I do not visit wildlife exhibits or refuges.

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      Comment by montucky — November 6, 2014 @ 8:53 am

  11. Love the feather detai!

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    Comment by Reed Andariese — November 12, 2014 @ 8:19 pm


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