The ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus) is a medium-sized grouse occurring in forests from the Appalachian Mountains across Canada to Alaska. The ruffed grouse is the state bird of Pennsylvania, United States. The ruffed grouse, a strikingly beautiful bird that symbolizes wildness, is in trouble across its native range.
The decline is growing in Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. A 2017 assessment by Northeast game managers found that the grouse population declined by at least 30% in Bay states over the last three decades. State Breeding Bird Atlas surveys tell a similar tale, showing that grouse numbers declined between 1989 and 2005 by 30% in Pennsylvania, 32% in Maryland and nearly 50% in West Virginia.The New York Department of Environmental Conservation says its grouse population has declined by an alarming 80% since the 1960s, and the Pennsylvania Game Commission estimates the state has lost 20—30% of its grouse population in the last 4 years alone.
Eighteen of the 38 states where ruffed grouse are native now list it as a species of concern.
Like most grouse, they spend most of their time on the ground; mixed woodland rich in aspen seems to be particularly well-liked. These birds forage on the ground or in trees. They are omnivores, eating buds, leaves, berries, seeds, and insects.
Southern Maryland Chronicle, March 17, 2020