ruffed grouse spring population counts are down from last year as
expected during the declining phase of the species’ 10-year cycle — a
predictable pattern recorded for 72 years. Although peaks vary from
eight to 11 years apart, the most recent peak in the cycle occurred in
grouse populations are surveyed by counting the number of male ruffed
grouse heard drumming on established routes throughout the state’s
forested regions. Drumming is a low sound produced by males as they beat
their wings rapidly and in increasing frequency to signal the location
of their territory. Drumming displays also attract females that are
ready to begin nesting.
spring drumming counts are an important indicator of the ruffed grouse
breeding population. The number of birds present during the fall hunting
season also depends upon nesting success and chick survival during the
spring and summer.
production of young birds is low during the summer months, hunters may
see fewer birds than expected based on counts of drumming males in the
spring. Conversely, when production of young is high, hunters may see
more birds than anticipated in the fall.
2021 statewide survey results for ruffed grouse were 1.3 drums per
stop. The most recent peak in 2017 was 2.1 drums per stop. During the
low point of the cycles, counts are typically about 0.8 drums per stop.
counts were 1.4 drums per stop in the northeast survey region; 1.1
drums per stop in the northwest; 0.8 drums per stop in the central
hardwoods; and 0.9 drums per stop in the southeast survey region.