In a sunlit clearing, a thick bodied, chicken-sized bird with gleaming plumage and harmoniously blended colors of russet, copper, and dark chocolate, steps up to his log, stone, or dirt pile podium. He spreads his black-banded fantail and shining ruffed throat collar before beginning a “drumming” performance used to either woo a mate or defend his territory from other males. Wings whip vertically in front of his puffed chest, gaining momentum as he creates a vacuum against the air. It’s the same mechanism that causes a boom of thunder after a lightning strike. This small, yet mighty bird is none other than the state bird of Pennsylvania and king of all game birds: the ruffed grouse.
Despite being North America’s widest ranging game bird inhabiting all of Canada and 38 of the 50 U.S. states, the ruffed grouse remains scattered and elusive, with populations decreasing in Pennsylvania and throughout the Northeastern United States. The Ruffed Grouse Society, a national conservation and sporting organization headquartered in Moon since the 1970s, remains dedicated to fostering prime habitat and hunting opportunities for both this species and the American woodcock.