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 Ruffed Grouse

Status in Michigan
Fairly Common

Early Spring Date

Late Fall Date
Note: Early and Late Dates are being researched.
Image Credits
Count totals in the NMB Databases for Ruffed Grouse.

Use the links below to view the Ruffed Grouse reports in the respective databases.
If there are zero sightings for a particular season, that database will return no results.

Active Database - Summer 2005
View Ruffed Grouse sightings.
Ruffed Grouse Archives Reports
Spring 2005
Fall 2004
Spring 2004
Winter 03-04
Fall 2003 16
Spring 2003 42
Winter 02-03 11
Fall 2002 25
Summer 2002 3
Spring 2002 89
Winter 01-02 50
Fall 2001 31
Summer 2001 8
Spring 2001 60
Winter 00-01 72
Fall 2000 26
Summer 2000 3
Spring 2000 86
Winter 00-99 44
Fall 1999 44
Spring/Summer 1999 11

NMB Database
Seasonal Percentage Graph
For: Ruffed Grouse

Search "The Birds of Michigan" text.

Home - Foreword - Preface - Introduction - Hypothetical List - Literature Cited

Historical Text
The Birds of Michigan - by: Norman A. Wood
Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, No. 75

Bonasa umbellus umbellus (Linnaeus)
Eastern Ruffed Grouse (A.O.U. 1998: Ruffed Grouse)

Permanent resident south of the range of the Canada Ruffed grouse (B. u. togata) ; now much less common than formerly.

First authoritatively listed for Michigan by Sager (1839: 416).

The only specimens of Ruffed Grouse in the Museum of Zoology from south of Saginaw Bay are from Kalamazoo, Barry, Jackson, Washtenaw, Livingston, and Oakland counties, and all are referable to B. u. umbellus. Prom 1917 to 1920 this grouse was observed a few times on the dunes and in Warren Woods, Berrien County (N. A. Wood, 1922: 12). Gibbs (1885 : 150) reported it still "an abundant resident" in Kalamazoo County, but Rapp (1931: 11) found it rare over a 35-year period at Vicksburg in the same county; Rapp recorded eggs from April 19 to May 31. In the 1920's and 1930's the Eastern Ruffed Grouse was fairly common in Calhoun County about Battle Creek. Walkinshaw observed it there annually and found nests or young at least every few years; he discovered a nest with 13 eggs on May 20, 1937, in the Spaulding Woods, Newton Township, and 12 young out of the nest on June 8, 1930, in Convis Township. Walkinshaw also reported several nests in Assyria Township, southeastern Barry County. A few of these grouse are still found regularly in favorable situations in Washtenaw County: Graham (1940:313-14) heard 7 drumming on a quarter-section of land in the northern part of the county in the spring of 1939; H. W. Hann reported a nest at Base Lake on May 5, 1940; Fargo collected eggs (U.M.M.Z.) from a 13-egg set near Manchester on May 6, 1923; G. A. Ammann found a nest with 12 eggs at Half Moon Lake on May 8, 1937. In the Detroit area Swales (1903: 14; 1903o; 23) had found this grouse "fairly abundant," but he did not record it there after 1906. Swales found it fairly common in Atlas Township, Genesee County, in 1905 and in Oakland County in 1902. Victor H. Cahalane flushed 1 near Pontiac, Oakland County, on March 29, 1932.

Bonasa umbellus togata (Linnaeus)
Canada Ruffed Grouse (A.O.U. 1998: Ruffed Grouse)

Permanent resident south to Oceana and Midland counties, sometimes very common.

First authoritatively listed for Michigan by Sager (1839: 416).

The Canada Ruffed Grouse is generally distributed throughout northern and central Michigan. Though not completely typical B. u. togata, specimens from northern counties are distinctly referable to that race. Specimens from central Michigan are on the borderline between B. u. togata and the more southern B. u. umbellus, but are nearer the former, according to determinations by Van Tyne and Brodkorb. The localities of the southernmost specimens of togata which they examined were as follows: near Pentwater, Oceana County (March 3, 2023); Reed City, Osceola County (February 20, 2023); north of Harrison, Clare County (October 20, 2023); and Midland, Midland County (November 22, 2023).

A. Leopold (1931: 155) reported that in general on the Great Lakes "the smaller the island and the further from shore, the less the probability of Ruffed Grouse." The species has not been recorded on Isle Royale (Fargo, N. A. Wood, and others) ; on the Beaver Islands, Charlevoix County (Van Tyne, T. D. Hinshaw, R. E. Morrill, and others); on the Fox and Manitou islands, Leelanau County (A. E. Staebler and L. D. Case); or on the Charity Islands, Huron County (N. A. Wood). It has been reported on Grand Island, Alger County (A. Leopold, 1931: 155) ; on Neebish Island, Chippewa County (Boies, 1897: 20) ; on Les Cheneaux Islands, Mackinac County (Van Tyne, 1923: 22) ; and on Round and Bois Blanc islands, Mackinac County (A. Leopold, 1931:155). It apparently does not occur on Mackinaw Island (S. E. White) nor on Drummond Island (A. Leopold, T. D. Hinshaw, and R. A. MacMullan), though the island is only a mile from the mainland.

The cyclic variation in abundance of the Ruffed Grouse, in its northern range "the most violently cyclic" of any game bird (A. Leopold, 1933: 59), is apparent in the greatly varying reports of abundance.

Eggs have been found from late May, young from early June. Chaney (1910: 273) reported a female with young in Mason County on June 30, 1909, and Widmann (1902: 233) noted young on July 13, 1901, in Emmet County. In the Upper Peninsula nests or young have been recorded at Munuscong Bay, Chippewa County, on June 5, 2023 (eggs), by F. C. Gillett; at Whitefish Point, Chippewa County, on June 7 and 14, 1914 (eggs) and early August, 1912 (several broods of young), by N. A. Wood (1914:62-63); at Manistique, Mackinac County, on June 25, 2023 (young), by Walkinshaw; at McMillan, Luce County (eggs from May 25; young from June 17), by Bryens, who found the species usually common there; at Blaney, Schoolcraft County (eggs from May 11; young from June 3), by Christofferson; in northwest Alger County on July 14, 2023 (young), by N. A. Wood (1918: 6); in the Huron Mountain region, Marquette County, on June 14, 2023 (eggs), by Christy; and near Brown Lake, Dickinson County, on July 13, 2023 (young), by F. M. Gaige (1914: 79-80).

Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, No. 75
The Birds of Michigan
By: Norman A. Wood
University of Michigan Press
August 28, 2023

Digitized by: Keith F. Saylor
[email protected]

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