[birdky] RPT: Grouse Tracks in the Snow

I visited a "birdy" hollow yesterday where past land use and Mother Nature
have created a seemingly permanent forest thicket.  I have been visiting
this hollow for 14 years and it has not changed much in terms of forest
succession.  The soil is extremely shallow and many of the pines have been
blown down.  As I approached a small cluster of Virginia pine, grouse tracks
appeared in the snow going up and down the slope.  Then one grouse flushed,
then a second, third and fourth.  The birds were perched in the pines.  Wild
grapes, greenbriar berries, and sumac berries surrounded the pines providing
plenty of food close to the evergreen cover.  A fifth grouse exploded out of
a Japanese honeysuckle thicket about 50 yards from the first group of birds.
A sixth grouse apparently saw me but I never saw it.  I came across its
fresh tracks in the snow and began following.  After 30 or 40 yards the
bird's tracks began to grow wider and wider apart and I realized it was
running from me.  The tracks abruptly ended with wing impressions in the
snow where it flushed out in front of me.  But I never did hear it fly or
see it.  Some grouse hunting friends have harvested birds this season.  The
first was a big adult male with a crop full of white oak acorn halves.  I'm
beginning to think that the grouse break the acorns in half before
swallowing.  A second grouse, an adult female, was full of wild grapes with
some Christmas fern leaves thrown in for diversity and color I guess.  I
love snow.

 

Scott Freidhof

Rowan County

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