Monday, March 20, 2017

Sprucing It Up

Sometimes a lot of effort goes into one bird......

The hours.  The miles.  And the hikes.  But it's more than that......

It's having the experience.  Knowing the terrain.  And playing detective.  All for one bird. 

Gray Jay collecting nesting material
As we wade through the wet snow, Gray Jays and Pine Grosbeaks entertain us.  But it was time to break the grouse conspiracy.  If we found the rare, for Oregon, Spruce Grouse, it would break the absence of grouse on the life list.

the town of Joseph, OR-named after Chief Joseph
And it took team work to find this bird.  The woods were silent except for the crunching of snow beneath our shoes. 

Bohemian Waxwing
Thanks to Khanh's knowledge of the bird, we were able to explore a known territory for one of these birds. 

The snow got deeper.  A dark shadow, brief as it was, caught my attention in the dark woods.  Then I heard the faint calling of a female bird nearby.

Khanh spotted the fresh tracks of the Spruce Grouse in the snow.  He looked up.  And I looked down. A black object blended into the dark shadows of the Spruce tree. Could it be?  Would this moment happen?  Just breathe Chris, it's the bird!!!  I pulled Khanh back and silently pointed to the dark object near the base of the tree. 

Magic.  Pure joy.  The male watched us as we watched him. 

Spruce Grouse
Locals call this bird, "the Fool's Hen" because the bird often stays in one spot believing s/he is camouflaged.  And for the most part, the camouflage works. We would have walked right past him had we not been playing detective. 

The Franklin's subspecies may possibly be split down the road into full species status. This grouse was named after the arctic explorer John Franklin, who led expeditions in the Northwest Territories in the 1820's. 

Khanh!  He's right there!
So with one grouse down, could we find others?  


  1. Great post Chris on a wonderful adventure :)

  2. Belle histoire, mais aussi belles images ;-)
    Céline & Philippe

  3. Hello awesome sighting of the Spruce Grouse. Your views of the mountains are gorgeous. Great collection of photos. Happy birding!

    1. Thanks Eileen! I remember your trek here years inspired me to check out certain areas. Gosh....when did you go? Like 4 or 5 years ago?

  4. Hello Chris!:) The Spruce Grouse is a beauty. A lot of effort, yes, but the thrill and wonder of seeing a new species ah,...makes it all worthwhile. It looks like you had a lot of fun! Have a great day.

  5. How exciting to find this beautiful grouse! So, you have been in Oregon! We are getting some of our migratory birds back from what I hear and I am watching with eagle eye :-) We have a wonderful birding group here on Crooked River Ranch, but my husband and I haven't been to a meeting yet. We're worried they mostly do the hikes, etc like you do and we won't really be able to participate. But we will check it out. In the meantime,the flickers are pecking on people's houses (including our own!) in mating call, I think, and my joy at having them visit the suet feeder was a little tempered by discovering the tiny holes on the garage door! :-)

    1. It was such a fun trip....I wonder what birds will come to your feeders. I'll be stopping by soon on your blog to check them out:)


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