05/31/2019 Nothing to Grouse about

Yesterday morning I decided to visit a North Quabbin gate where I have found several nice clusters of Pink Lady’s Slippers in the past. After photographing them I started walking back towards my car when I spotted another of my goals for the morning, a triple bloom Starflower. I set up and was about to make my first exposure when I heard a low chirp nearby.  It was closer than nearby, a Ruffed Grouse was at my feet and decided to check out the flower I was about to shoot. I’ve seen them before but just for fleeting moments as they are usually afraid of humans.  But as I learned later Ruffed Grouse can be territorially defensive and several folks commented when I posted these on Facebook that they had similar experiences only the birds were aggressive. This one was not aggressive and allowed me to be close…or rather would not stop being close to me.

When I say close, I mean quite.  These were taken with my iPhone and were only slightly cropped. I had my 180 mounted and it was just too close.  When I backed up to fit it in the frame it followed me so that didn’t work.  I am pretty shaky so they aren’t as sharp as they might be but the shots do record the experience. I am lucky he/she did not peck at the phone. I’ve never experienced an encounter with a wild bird like this.  I am told they are called “fool birds” because some  make themselves so easy to shoot…both for hunting and photography.

When it came time for me to continue to the car, I had to feign attack to get it to not follow me.  It wasn’t taking the hint and followed me for a few hundred feet before I finally convinced it to stop.  I was parked next to a small highway and didn’t want it to be in the road.

About Steve Gingold

I am a Nature Photographer with interests in all things related. Water, flowers, insects and fungi are my main interests but I am happy to photograph wildlife and landscapes and all other of Nature's subjects.
This entry was posted in Animal Behavior, Nature Photography, Western Massachusetts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to 05/31/2019 Nothing to Grouse about

  1. What an encounter. Since the grouse didn’t mind being so close to you, even apparently enjoyed being near you, did you think of trying to pick it up?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. How lucky you were to get such a good close-up. Do you think it was a juvenile? Sometimes they behave oddly as they figure out the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very handsome little thing, and what a complex pattern of feathers. I’ve never gotten at all close to one, it’s always been a burst of sound and a blur

    Liked by 1 person

  4. tomwhelan says:

    Fine images – what an experience to be that close. I’ve never seen a grouse.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. shoreacres says:

    I wouldn’t grouse at all about an encounter like that. It’s a handsome bird. It does seem you’re not alone in your experience. Since they nest on the ground, I’d wondered if the bird was trying to draw you away from a nest, but when I did a search for ‘grouse aggressive behavior,’ I found this neat article. And there are some videos on YouTube of the birds coming right up to cameras, or following people.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That example of the grouse on the rifle barrel makes a good story as to why they are called “fools”. It seemed unusual to me not having heard about the behavior prior, but common enough, I guess. Glad it was a friendly encounter and not aggressive.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. bluebrightly says:

    That’s a wonderful story, Steve, so interesting. Close encounters that surprise us keep us curious, don’t you think?

    Liked by 1 person

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