by VINS Staff
|Ruffed Grouse, Bonasa umbellus|
Have you ever wondered where birds sleep? Birds sleep, or roost, in any number of places - in trees and cavities, on the ground; some even roost under the snow. The ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus), a common
New England ground-feeding bird related
to the chicken and turkey, has a very unusual roosting ritual. When snow depths
reach at least 10 inches, the bird will plunge down from a height into the
snow. The grouse will burrow in and hollow out a cavity, creating a pocket of
air under the snow. The snow acts as an insulator, keeping the cavity warmer
than the air above, while also offering protection from avian predators. When
the time comes to vacate their roost, the grouse explodes up out of the snow,
causing alarm to anyone in the vicinity.
|Ruffed Grouse in VINS' Rehabilitation Center|
Photo by Sara Eisenhauer
Recently, the VINS Wildlife Services Department played host to a ruffed grouse that got himself into a bit of trouble. When a grouse “explodes,” he often does not see obstacles that are nearby, which can result in collisions with buildings, windows, or cars. This particular bird crashed through a plate glass window! VINS’ grouse patient was amazingly lucky and sustained minimal injuries – he had a few cuts and abrasions, an injury to his right eye, and a broken toe on his left foot. He was given a little birdie “boot” to stabilize his toe, his cuts were cleaned, and his injured eye was rinsed and cleaned. After about two weeks in rehab, the ruffed grouse was healthy and fit, and he was returned to his home in the wild.
Photo by Bill Byrne, Mass. Energy & Environmental Affairs