How to Identify and Attract Grouse to Your Backyard
Grouse are a group of birds that belong to the order Galliformes, which also includes chickens, turkeys, quails, and pheasants. They are medium-sized birds with rounded bodies, short tails, and feathered legs. Grouse are mostly found in temperate and boreal regions of North America, Europe, and Asia. They inhabit a variety of habitats, such as forests, grasslands, tundra, and moorlands.
If you are a bird lover and want to attract grouse to your backyard, here are some tips to help you identify and lure these beautiful birds.
How to Identify Grouse
Grouse can be identified by their distinctive features, such as their plumage color, head shape, tail pattern, and vocalizations. Here are some common types of grouse and how to recognize them:
- Ruffed grouse: This is the most widespread and familiar grouse in North America. It has a brown or gray plumage with black bands on the tail and a black ruff around the neck. The male ruffed grouse makes a loud drumming sound by beating its wings against its chest.
- Spruce grouse: This is a dark-colored grouse that lives in coniferous forests. It has a black or gray plumage with white spots on the wings and tail. The male spruce grouse has a red patch above the eye and a black throat.
- Sage grouse: This is the largest grouse in North America. It has a gray or brown plumage with black belly and white tail feathers. The male sage grouse has a black throat and chest with yellow air sacs that inflate during courtship displays.
- Sharp-tailed grouse: This is a prairie grouse that inhabits grasslands and shrublands. It has a brown or gray plumage with white spots on the wings and tail. The tail is pointed and has a central dark stripe. The male sharp-tailed grouse performs a lekking dance on the ground with other males.
- Capercaillie: This is the largest grouse in the world. It lives in boreal forests of Europe and Asia. It has a black or brown plumage with white spots on the wings and tail. The male capercaillie has a large curved bill, a red comb above the eye, and a metallic green breast.
How to Attract Grouse
Grouse are shy and elusive birds that prefer natural habitats. However, you can attract them to your backyard by providing them with food, water, shelter, and nesting sites. Here are some ways to make your backyard more grouse-friendly:
- Plant native trees and shrubs: Grouse feed on buds, leaves, seeds, fruits, and insects from various plants. Planting native trees and shrubs that provide food and cover for grouse will increase their chances of visiting your backyard. Some examples of plants that grouse like are birch, aspen, willow, alder, dogwood, serviceberry, chokecherry, hawthorn, juniper, sagebrush, and sumac.
- Provide water sources: Grouse need water to drink and bathe. Providing water sources such as birdbaths, ponds, fountains, or streams will attract grouse to your backyard. Make sure the water is clean and fresh and change it regularly.
- Create brush piles: Grouse use brush piles as shelter from predators and weather. Creating brush piles from branches, logs, leaves, grasses, or straw will provide hiding places for grouse in your backyard. Place the brush piles near food sources or water sources for easy access.
- Offer supplemental feeders: Grouse may visit your backyard if you offer supplemental feeders with seeds or grains that they like. Some examples of seeds or grains that grouse eat are sunflower seeds, millet, corn, wheat, oats, barley, rye, buckwheat, sorghum, and quinoa. Place the feeders near cover or water sources and keep them clean and full.