I went looking for Trouble this week. I didn’t find him. The Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge reports that there is a particularly bold spruce grouse that confronts anyone daring to use his trail. The refuge biologists have named him Trouble.

I went searching for Trouble because this weekend marks the first of three consecutive birding festivals. I guide for all three, and I generally get the tough assignments. The luckier guides just stand on the rail of a boat and say, “Hey, there goes a puffin,” while pointing at one of the hundreds in plain sight. Me? I have to go find a spruce grouse and other unusual birds. Thus, I scout.

The Wings, Waves, Woods Festival kicks off in Stonington this Friday. I confess, I get to be a puffin spotter during that festival. Then, Memorial Day Weekend is reserved for the Down East Spring Birding Festival in Lubec. I’ve already got grouse scouted out for that one. Finally, the Acadia Birding Festival occupies the first weekend of June. That’s my trouble festival.

There are spruce grouse on Mount Desert Island, but only a few, and they tend to be on the summits. Spruce grouse are native to northern forests, and they don’t live much below Bangor. It’s a coveted bird for festival goers. During the Acadia festival, it’s best to take the diehard birders off the island and up the coast. That’s my job every year. For the last several years, I’ve been trying to find pockets of reliable spruce grouse closer to Acadia. Lately, I’ve been searching the land trust trails of the Frenchman Bay Conservancy.

And so it came to pass that I parked my car at one trailhead, walked a mere hundred yards and there he was — a male spruce grouse, strutting. For goodness sakes, it’s never this easy: my first stop of the day and I found a grouse within a minute!

Then I heard the call of another grouse, a female. And in the tree, beside her, there was a second female. I had walked into a menage a trois. The decent thing for me to do was to walk away. Naturally, I stayed. I sat down on the forest floor and watched. Now, I’ll confess, nothing lurid happened. The girls stayed in the tree. The boy stayed on the ground, fanning his tail, fluffing his wings and puffing out his chest. Sometimes he would pick a sunnier spot to strut. Sometimes he would flutter up to a tree branch, then flutter back to the ground.

He was aware of me, of course, and he would leave the girls and come over to check me out now and then. Mostly, he was satisfied that I had no intention of eating him or wooing them, so he lost interest and quickly went back to strutting. Sometimes if you just sit quietly, you become part of the background and nature happens.

One of the girls was a wanton hussy. I knew that female spruce grouse make a chur-chur-churring sound, though I had never heard it before. I’ve heard them clucking quietly to each other, but I’ve never heard loud churring. This wench was singing her siren song, leading him on, and he was doing his utmost to please her.

Eventually, he walked behind me and up onto the jeep path. He was farther from the hens, but more visible. A grouse putting on a show wants a stage so that his performance can be appropriately admired. I walked over to the hens for a better look. The loud one blinked at me once, determined that I was insignificant and resumed her churring. I returned to the path and said goodbye to the male grouse. By them, he was munching on a few needles and ignored me.

I know from experience that these grouse won’t be there when I need them. The odds are that I will lead a van load of birders to this spot in couple of weeks, and we will search in vain. To improve my chances, I need about four good sites for every good sighting.

The next day, I went looking for Trouble again. Sure enough, at the appointed spot, I was confronted — by a hen! Maybe I had misunderstood the gender, and he was a she. A male grouse on his territory may ask you to leave, but a female grouse will demand it, pecking your shoelaces. As she stared me down, I knew she was Trouble.

Bob Duchesne serves as vice president of Maine Audubon’s Penobscot Valley Chapter. He developed the Maine Birding Trail, with information at mainebirdingtrail.com. He can be reached at duchesne@midmaine.com.