I just looked up to see a half dozen drab grouse-like birds hustle
rapidly across the road and into the underbrush before I could grab my
binos. I'm no more than vaguely familiar with this class of birds or I
would undoubtedly have know immediately whether they were ruffed grouse
or ring-neck pheasant females. I looked in a couple field guides
without learning anything much that helped other than tail length, but
these ladies were holding their tails straight up (looking not a little
like road runners), so while they looked relatively long-tailed, I
couldn't be totally sure of that.
Then I finally located my Sibley, where I read that while grouse are
solitary, pheasants form small single-sex flocks in winter. Bingo.
Case closed. Yay Sibley!
Why on earth don't more field guides include bits of behavior info like
this as a guide to identification?