Although uncommon, I often come across Spruce Grouse during my travels through the boreal woods of Maine. I found the male spruce grouse in this video a couple years ago, displaying in a thick cedar bog. Each spring I check for him (usually in mid-April) and he’s always in the same spot strutting his stuff. He’s kind of an old friend now! Spruce Grouse can be incredibly tame and sometimes will walk within a couple feet of an observer. This bird is no exception and has even walked right under my tripod as I was trying to take photographs!
I found the female in the video “gritting” in the road early one morning. Given these birds eat spruce needles they need to ingest small stones to help grind up this tough food. I pulled over and she moved a few yards into the woods and walked up a dead spruce. She sat there for quite some time just relaxing. In fact, I left before she did!
Spruce grouse prefer thick, mature coniferous forest with a mossy ground cover. They’re found throughout the boreal forest from Newfoundland to Alaska and in some areas of the western mountains of the US. They’re generally, silent, but males clap their wings and fan their tail feathers (which makes a “sandpaper” like noise) during courtship displays. Males also have a special “flutter-flight” given to attract females, in which they fly up to a perch, or down from a perch, with pronounced wing flapping (note the two loud flutter-flights in the video).