Common Name

Scientific Name


Photo by Unknown Photographer
Photo Courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

The ruffed grouse, Bonasa umbellus, is also known as the willow grouse.

Length is 16 to 19 inches and weights may vary from 16 to 28 ounces.

A dark ruff of feathers occurs on the side of the neck. Feathers on the head may be raised to form a crest. The upper parts are grayish-brown mottled with gray and black. Under parts are buff, marked with dark brown. The tail is usually gray with a broad, black or brown sub-terminal band. Blue grouse have a blue-gray terminal band.

Brushy woodland areas adjacent to streams and springs are preferred habitat. Thickets of alder, willow, aspen, maple, and other deciduous shrubs and trees interspersed with conifers provide the most desirable habitat.

The males establish individual breeding territories and proclaim their rights to the area by "drumming," a beating and whirring noise produced by rapid beating of wings in the air while standing on logs, rocks, stumps or mounds of earth. Drumming also serves to attract females to his territory.

Nesting occurs during late April, May, or June. The nest is a shallow depression lined with leaves and other dry materials. It is usually located at the base of a tree or shrub. From nine to 14 buff-colored eggs are laid. Incubation requires 23 to 24 days.

Buds of deciduous trees and any available fruit and seeds are primary winter food items. During other seasons, fruits, green vegetation, seeds and insects are utilized.

The ruffed grouse is an excellent game bird, capable of testing the skill of the most experienced shotgunner. Good populations are limited to the northern Wasatch Range, but they are capable of providing substantial recreation to the hunting public. Only a small number of hunters choose to match skills and stamina with the ruffed grouse. Therefore, the annual harvest is limited. The ruffed grouse is native to Utah.


  • Text modified from: Rawley, E. V., W. J. Bailey, D. L. Mitchell, J. Roberson, and J. Leatham. 1996. Utah upland game. Publication number 63-12. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Salt Lake City.