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Spruce Grouse!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

It's not very often I get to behold a life bird in North America any more. The last one was a female black-backed woodpecker in the mountains outside Santa Fe, New Mexico, last November 2007. That species, like the related three-toed woodpecker, had eluded me, well, all my life.

I was hoping, but not very hard, to see another life bird in Michigan. I wasn't hoping hard because I've been skunked before, trying to see it in Maine.

Gosh, it was great to be led right to a female spruce grouse, just as it was getting dark outside. I'm grateful to Mike Sefton, a longtime board member of Whitefish Point Bird Observatory and editor of the WPBO Migrant, for taking the time to find her for me. Groups of happy festivalgoers had been enjoying the sight of her all day. Mike wound his way through what was to me a featureless dune forest to find the cryptically colored hen grouse huddled in a pine. We had no sooner emerged from finding her than another birder asked, "Did you see the spruce grouse?" and Mike turned right around to take her to the site. What a kind thing to do.

Spruce grouse are pretty cool customers, and they don't seem to mind going about their business with an audience. But calling them "fool hens" doesn't seem fair.


A gorgeous little cantaloupe of a bird, her markings perfectly define her form.

Such exquisite colors and patterns she shows. I wasn't in the least disappointed that it wasn't a slate-blue male.

What a nice life bird to end a good day in the April cold of the Upper Peninsula.

New Blog Alert! Please stop by my neighbor Jane's blog for lovely horses and the cutest spotted donkey, for tales of life on her farm and her gorgeous hand-hooked primitive-themed rugs, which are anything but primitive.

And while I'm at it, please check out my neighbor Beth's blog for frequent posts on her ossum, multi-layered paintings and cyanotypes. Whipple, believe it or not, is a teeny-tiny artists' colony. We make up for our small numbers in large talent. I've added links in the giant blogroll to the right.


Congratulations! Did you do the dance?

;) Wendi

The dance is kind of Bill's thing. Let's just say I danced inwardly.

Julie, it must be thrilling to get a 'lifer'. And who desreves one more than you-a true champion of bird watching! :)

So happy for you! She looks very puffy :o)

A cantaloupe, indeed!
I like her plumpness--there's something very kind about her form.
Even her chin.

She's lovely!

What a great looking bird. Just wiggle inside, that counts as a dance.

Can't get over how much she looks like a fir cone in picture two. Gotta wonder--birds don't seem to have much of a sense of scale--is that camouflage?

Wow, I've never seen such a bird. He's like a pinecone come to life.

Jealous! Still skunked on spruce grouse! Might hafta head up to Whitefish next spring!

Great pix, Zick!

Have you caught her cousin, the blue grouse? If not, drop me a line and I can give you pretty good directions for a NM sighting on your next trip this direction.

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