Grouse of Maryland (1 Species to Know)

Grouse are a particular group of game birds that are medium to large in size and are chicken-like in appearance. In North America, grouse have traditionally been hunted as a source of food, but to birders, they are desirable to find because of their unique qualities and beauty. While some grouse species are numerous, they can still prove to be elusive, and it’s always an adventure to try and find them.

In Maryland, there is one species that can be found in the state (the Ruffed Grouse). Here is everything you need to know about this species.

Ruffed Grouse

Ruffed Grouse (Pat Matthews Photo)

Ruffed Grouse male and females look similar in coloration with some slight differences. Overall, both males and females have a light-colored chest and underside, with dark and light brown barring and speckling. Their backs and wings are shades of brown with some white and darker markings mixed in. Ruffed Grouse have a crest on their head and during the breeding season, males will show black neck feathers as a display in addition to fanning their tails in a similar manor to a peacock.


Ruffed Grouse can be found in the northern forests of North America. Their range encompasses most of Southern and Western Canada up into Alaska. In the United States, Ruffed Grouse live in the Midwest around the Great Lakes, in the Northeast, and some of the states in the Northwest such as Montana and Idaho, among others.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Ruffed Grouse eat mostly plant matter with just a small amount of their diet consisting of insects. Typical fare for the Ruffed Grouse is leaves, buds, ferns, grass, acorns, fruits, and twigs of birch and aspen trees.

Where to Find this Bird

Ruffed Grouse can be very difficult to see as they live in dense woodlands and move very deliberately. Some of the best times to see them is during winter when they stand out more than in months when there isn’t snow. Another way to see Ruffed Grouse is by driving forest roads where they can sometimes be seen on the edge of the tree line of walking on the road, or by visiting a lek in the spring.

In researching which species of grouse live in Indiana I was surprised to stumble upon something of a controversy. Most recent reports of Ruffed Grouse in the state are from Yellowwood State Forest where there seemed to be a lot of debate over how many individual bids actually reside in the area. It seems that with enough searching the hardwood forests of Indiana they can be turned up but are very tough to find.


Grouse can be quite difficult to find, but they are certainly fascinating to see in the wild. If you are able to spot a grouse in Maryland, it will almost certainly be a Ruffed Grouse.

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