Also Goes By: Fool Hen, Franklin Grouse
Photo Courtesy of Dick Daniels.
The Spruce Grouse is a medium sized grouse that roosts in the boreal and coniferous forests and taiga of Canada, Alaska and the northern border states of the US. This grouse can grow to be a foot and a half in length and has a gray, brown body with a black throat, black breast and a square tail. The males will have a red patch over their eye while the females tend to be a more mottled brown. Their coloring makes them exquisite camouflage artists during the summer months, so much so that they are referred to as “Fools Hens” or “Stupid Chickens” because of their refusal to flush and their preference for holding tight in a tree. Despite this, the winter exposes them more and they tend to be more cautious, taking flight more readily when a threat approaches.
During the summer months, these birds feed on berries, some insects and green plants. However, in the winter months the Spruce Grouse will have a diet consisting of mainly conifer needles. In fact, the digestive sacs in this bird’s intestine will actually increase in size in order to support their winter cuisine.
It is common to find these birds along breaks and openings in the forest and on the sides of the road where they will feed on berries. They will typically stay in the trees during the winter, using their superb camouflage and staying out of exposure.
Using a 12 or 20 gauge shot gun with a modified choke is ideal when hunting these birds. Bring a close working dog along for optimal results.