Mechanical Sounds of the Ruffed Grouse or: Partridge

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Learn how the Ruffed Grouse or Partridge bird uses mechanical sounds in this free birding video

Part of the Video Series: How to Identify Birds by Songs
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Video Transcript

Hello. Welcome to Expert Village. My name is Wayne Petersen and I'm the director of the Important Bird Areas Program for the Massachusetts Audubon Society. Today, we're here at the Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary in Marshfield. And, we're going to be talking about birding by ear. One of the more remarkable non-vocal or mechanical sounds is created by the Ruffed Grouse or Partridge as in a partridge in a pear tree. In the spring, what the male Ruffed Grouse does is typically find a secluded spot in the woods, oftentimes on a log or a stone. And, the male will mount up on top of the log or stone and it will begin to display. And, they have a very peculiar performance that begins with a very slow opening and closing of the wings that as the tempo increases, produces this very distinctive low thumping sound, sort of like.... So, that it actually sounds a bit like a drum roll. And, it's a sound that for somebody who's never heard it before, when you first encounter this, it almost is something that you feel rather than hear in the traditional sense. Because it's such a low, hollow thumping sound that at a distance, it's almost like a sound inside your ear or your head as opposed to a true vocalization. So, the Ruffed Grouse is probably one of the more interesting and unusual examples of a bird that uses a mechanical sound for territory and attraction of the females.


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