Among the mysteries of the Maine woods is the intense “drumming” of a male ruffed grouse. Hear it once, and you’re likely left wondering what in the world could make such an odd sound. Describe the experience to someone who’s spent a lot of time in the woods, and they’re likely to smile and tell you just what critter made that noise, and explain what the bird was up to.
When the BDN asked for readers to share their trail camera photos and videos, I secretly hoped that somebody — anybody — would step forward with a video like this. Thanks to David I. who reached out with some awesome photos and videos, including this one, that I’m sure you’ll enjoy.
So, what are you watching, exactly? An early stage of the ruffed grouse courtship ritual, according to Brad Allen, a wildlife biologist who serves as bird group leader for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
“That’s awesome drumming video footage, absolutely beautiful as you don’t always get to see the view from the front,” Allen said. “Conventional wisdom is that this male is trying to attract the handful of females within earshot to his log vicinity so he can mate with them if they’re impressed enough.”
The drumming is quite loud and the signal can be heard from a good distance away. And trust me, if you’re a fledgling hiker or new hunter, the noise might spook you a bit.
“The drum is made by a small sonic bomb the wingbeats create,” Allen said “This is very neat behavior to watch and record. I once placed a hunter’s blind near a drumming log and watched and photographed this behavior several mornings. The male did not disappoint.”
Do you have a trail camera photo or video to share? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us “I consent to the BDN using my photo.” In order to prevent neighbors from stopping by to try to tag particularly large bucks, moose or bears, some identities and towns of origin may be omitted.