[CT Birds] State response to Rough Grouse

kmueller at ntplx.net kmueller at ntplx.net
Sat Mar 9 10:39:30 EST 2013

Patrick beat me to one of my points regarding Ruffed Grouse in this  
State, and that is the maturation of their habitat. Forty years ago  
the woodland edge habitat perfect for Grouse and Woodcock was more  
plentiful than today. This habitat made up of old abandoned farm  
fields, orchards, cedar edges, etc, has been  severally reduced due to  
the growth of encroaching woodlands and development.

With the severe reduction in suitable habitat the bird numbers follow.  
It doesn't surprise me that the count numbers that have been charted  
have fallen. Another count that never get posted is the number of  
acres of suitable habitat still available for these birds. It also  
could be that many of the usual counted birds have retreated farther  
back into the woodlands to find suitable habitat away from the normal  
birding areas where they have been counted in the past. And maybe more  
of the birds have settled into private property areas where they will  
never be counted.

Around my house I am surrounded with thousands of acres of private  
land owned and leased by the water company, and private shooting and  
game clubs. My back yard property alone backs up to hundreds and  
hundreds perhaps thousands of acres of water company private property.  
There are many old fields, sloughs, cedar swamps and edges throughout  
the main mature woodlands in this area. I hear Grouse drumming every  
spring in several locations, yet these birds never make any counts. I  
wonder how many Grouse are in these areas? I also wonder if any of  
them have have relocated here from other dwindling locations and will  
never be counted.

I hunted Grouse years ago, and one thing we kept in mind was that the  
usual Grouse cover changed every year. You couldn't rely on the same  
good Grouse cover to be as productive as it was last season. You had  
to search for the new areas of cover that the Grouse preferred. It may  
have been on a different area of the private property, or a completely  
different piece of property all together. Some seasons you would find  
them, sometimes less and other seasons none at all.

Just because these birds may not be showing up in counts at usual  
locations each year or with reduced numbers, there could be many  

We have to put our trust and faith in the biologists who are trying to  
put things in perspective. If the numbers were low or critical, they  
would alter the season from the length of the season and/or bag limits.

Keith Mueller

Quoting "Comins, Patrick" <PCOMINS at audubon.org>:

> One thing to keep in mind is that by virtue of them being a  
> harvested species, it makes them eligible for far more funding than  
> for non-harvested species, which is one reason there has been so  
> many resources going towards creating new habitat for them.  There  
> is dedicated funding that can support habitat management for hunted  
> species.   It is likely the maturation of our woodlands that is the  
> limiting factor for Ruffed Grouse in CT, as they are an early  
> successional species.  Most species dependent upon this habitat type  
> are in serious decline in the state.  There is a lot of work going  
> into improving habitat for Ruffed Grouse and woodcock in the state,  
> both on state lands and at places like private fish and game clubs,  
> which provide 1,000's of acres of critical habitat for birds in the  
> state, both hunted and non-game alike.
> Patrick
> Patrick M. Comins
> Director of Bird Conservation
> Audubon Connecticut
> 185 East Flat Hill Road
> Southbury, CT 06488
> Phone: (203)264-5098 x308
> Fax: (203)264-6332
> pcomins at audubon.org
> http://iba.audubon.org/iba/viewState.do?state=US-CT
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