wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.

Blue Grouse

30 Comments

Blue grouse on Vancouver Island generally live in coniferous forests on the hilly slopes. In the summer they spend more time in the lower elevations near the edges of treed areas, presumably eating more berries and insects, while in the winter they  go higher up the slopes to more dense stand of coniferous trees where they eat buds and shoots of the trees.

We live far from the slopes of the hills, quite close to the water, so I was shocked to see this blue grouse flying up into our fir trees to get away from Emma (our English cocker spaniel) whom I had just put out into the backyard.

I still don’t know how it got here, and what it was doing in our neck of the woods.

The bright yellow skin over the eye is a telltale marking of the male blue grouse. The female has only a pale patch of bare skin over the eye. But even without noticing this slight difference, if you saw a male and female grouse side by side, you’d wonder if they were the same species. The males are shades of black, brown, blue and gray, speckled with white, while the females are smaller and a dark reddish brown.

Keeping their legs warm on those higher elevations are the tiny feathers that go down to their toes.

I raised chickens many years ago and was used to picking them up. So when I saw a blue grouse strutting back and forth along the side of a logging road one spring, I walked over to it. Most likely its mate had a nest nearby. It was quite aggressive and ran at my legs. I crouched down and slowly reached out my left hand. It pecked the skin between my thumb and forefinger. While it held onto my left hand, I scooped it up in my right hand and immediately tucked its head under my arm so it was in the dark. It stayed very still while the Captain and I had a good look at it. We gave it a gentle pat and put it back down on the side of the road.

I don’t go around disturbing nesting birds (and I can only assume its mate had a nest nearby – I never saw it), but this bird was so actively patrolling the area I couldn’t resist getting out and saying hello. It was an amazing feeling to actually hold a wild bird for a few moments.

 

 

Author: wordsfromanneli

Writing, travel, photography, nature, more writing....

30 thoughts on “Blue Grouse

  1. Sehr gut gemacht und der Vogel ist ein hübscher 😍

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  2. Never saw a blue grouse here in Nova Scotia .. a great poser.
    Anita

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  3. What a beautiful bird. Thanks for sharing, Anneli!

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  4. I’m sure it was fun to hold the wild bird, they are very attractive too. ❤️☺️🇨🇦

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  5. Interesting read, Anneli! Skilled handling of the grouse too.

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  6. Thank you Anneli. Your discussion and photography share so much with your readers. When I lived in Montana, grouse hens would occasionally be seen crossing a highway in the eastern plains. Thank goodness traffic was sparse.

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  7. Those are amazing shots of the Blue Grouse Anneli! The funny thing is I was just watching a YouTube video this morning done by a wildlife photographer who was trying to capture pictures of a Ruffed Grouse “drumming”. I had not heard of that wing flapping courtship maneuver in Grouse. He was in Okanogan County in Washington. Here’s the link if you are interested. Your photos are as good as his! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovJhPjnZNz0

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  8. What beautiful photos! I don’t think I’ve seen such good photos of them before. Cheers.

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  9. Very good pictures, it is a pretty bird. I am also wondering why he is in your yard.

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  10. Dear Anneli
    Great photographs and narrative. Thanks for sharing.
    Have a happy weekend
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

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  11. What a beauty of a grouse! Your courage in letting the blue grouse peck is impressive. In our neck of the woods in the Interior of BC, we have an abundance of the common grouse. They are considered dumb by the locals as they act like sitting ducks for their defence.

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    • Oh, I know what you mean, Peter. Those might have been Franklins (spruce grouse). They are quite stupid and I wonder how they’ve survived in spite of their lack of alertness to danger. Thanks for your visit and your kind comment.

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  12. What a piece of art this bird is! Beautiful story and fantastic photos! I remember the day on the logging road, as I happened to be with you and the Captain that day. I stayed back and watched you handle that grouse so gently. So many years ago!!

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  13. What a pretty bird, Anneli. We have grouse (different variety) around here, and they are so protective of their babies. We frequently have to stop the car while a parent stands in the road until all the chicks have crossed. Loved the close-ups too. 🙂

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  14. I soaked up every word of this wonderful post, Anneli. Grouse are so skittish and elusive, just seeing one is a trick. I have spent many hours driving around looking for grouse to no avail, and once saw a pair, the only time I saw grouse, for about a nano-second before they fluttered off and disappeared in the brush. Seeing the beauty of this blue grouse, and hearing your story was really special.

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  15. Your photo captures the bird perfectly.

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