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They definitely do burrow and, like Prof. Heinrich, I have flushed them out
of the snow many times. One day when the snow and temperature were
apparently just right, I encountered several of them during the day, just
off the trail I was skiing on in the George Aiken Wilderness Area in
southern Vermont. I learned to see the openings in the snow and began to
avoid them so as not to disturb the birds and cause them to use precious
energy. I noted at least one occasion where the bird had apparently stayed
put while snowmobilers passed by just 8-10 feet away.  I have also come
across at least one instance where the bird was taken by a fox. Burrowing
can save energy but it has other risks attached. I can imagine the grouse
thinking, "Should I stay or should I go?" Life in the wild is often a
balancing act. Grouse will also walk in under the snow-draped boughs of fir
trees and huddle next to the trunk. When the snow is soft, you can see where
the bird alighted, follow the tracks, and..yup..find a pile of fecal pellets
where the bird had hunkered down.
Charlie La Rosa
Brattleboro

On Thu, Feb 10, 2011 at 5:06 PM, Patti Haynes <[log in to unmask]>wrote:

> Have any of you seen evidence that Ruffed Grouse actually burrow in the
> snow?
>
> I have just started reading *Winter World* by Bernd Heinrich. In his
> chapter
> on snow and subnivian space he claims that Grouse and other birds actually
> burrow under the snow: -- " in the Maine woods I routinely find over thirty
> fecal pellets (in these snow shelters) where a ruffed grouse has spent the
> night. Often these birds also stay the day in their shelter, because on
> snowy, cold days I have flushed them out from underfoot under the snow even
> at noon."
>
> I have seen snow accumulate on birds, but I had never heard of them
> burrowing in it.
>
> Your thoughts or observations?
>
> Patti
> Moretown Village
>