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Matt Breuer

Grouse colors...

40 posts in this topic

Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I think that grouse fans are a testament to the weather to come. Last year it was roughly 60/40 between gray and brown-phased birds. This year I've only seen three brown-phased birds. Typically fan color is a climate thing...

What is everyone else seeing?

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I thought the color pase was a genetic thing...only 3 grouse this year... all brown phase ...Might be the area of the state? I'm not sure...not a biology major just a hunter. Going out Sunday, hope to add to the total I'll give you a color report!....uplander

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I don't know. I have only seen 2 birds and have not taken any shots yet. Hopefully this weekend treats me well. wink

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I believe the fan colors are a genetic thing...similar to labrador retrievers (black/chocolate/yellow) or snow geese (white/blue). The gray phase birds are probably just more dominant in your area this year, or maybe they were the main survivors!

Headed out after the grouse this weekend for the first time. Lookin forward to it...

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Climate related to region. You'd almost never find a brown-phased bird in Alaska. The warmer regions of their range produce nearly all brown-phased birds (Penn., NY, etc..).

I know that when I hunted near Brainerd/Aitkin/Mora nearly everything I shot was brown-phased.

Regardless, it's interesting hearing about the differences from hunter to hunter!

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I have heard that you will see more brown faze grouse when they are on the up cycle. Doubt there is any truth to it, but definately fun to talk about.

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I think it may be linked to why geese always fly in a V and the one side of the V is always longer than the other side.

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For what it's worth, here's from the Ruffed Grouse Society:

Across most of their range Ruffed Grouse have two or more color phases. Their body feathers may be either predominately grayish or a reddish brown, and their tails vary even more in color. In the upper mid-west as many as 58 variations in tail color are recognized, lumped into 4 broad categories of silver gray, intermediate gray, brown and red.

Red-phased grouse become more prevalent in milder climates, and the gray birds are more abundant where winter climates are more severe. On the Pacific Coast from Washington south and from New York south in the Appalachians, nearly all Ruffed Grouse are red-phased.

Wherever the color phases include the grays and browns, about 1/2 the hens have their own unique tail color, a "split" phase, with the two central feathers markedly redder or browner than the other 14 to 16 feathers in their tails.

The subterminal band near the tip of the tail may be black or copper-colored, but is always the same color as the bird's ruff. Males tend to have the copper or chocolate colored band about twice as often as females.

This year I've gotten 50/50 browns(we've always called them reds) to grays.

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My buddies and I shot 16 birds last weekend in and around the Crosslake area...pretty much a 50/50 split between gray and brown birds. The brown ones definitely had some spectacular markings and by far were the prettiest birds.

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My buddy and I scored 18 in a day and a half this weekend and of those 11 were standard color variances found in ruffed grouse and 7 were 'spruce grouse'. They were dark inside and out and full of pine needles. At our next game feed our other friends can eat those. Pretty birds though. When I get some of the fans spread I'll toss up a pic of the assortment.

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Hunted around Park Rapids last weekend and nearly every bird was grey phase.

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How was it around Park Rapids. I'm heading up near there this weekend. Hopefully the numbers are noticeably up from last year.

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My son came home last night with 4 birds. He's been doing pretty good.

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This is very interesting. I heard once when I was younger that there are brown and grey feathered grouse and that there color is suposed to tell how hard the winter will be. I guess I havent put it all together yet. I have seen alot of black squirrels in my area this year and Im sure that its a genetic thing. Of course we could start a new wives tale that the squirrels are black so they can absorb more heat and knowing this we can tell its going to be a very cold winter. What do you say guys? we could start a new one!!! grin

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Was up in the Park Rapids area a few weeks ago and where we were hunting numbers were very low. The worst I have seen in that area. Two days full hunting maybe put up 15 birds at most. I have been having much better luck North of Mille Lacs. Putting up 15-20 a day in 3-4 hours in that area.

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I've been doing very well in the Park Rapids area. Just like anything else, you have to be in the right spots. I've got spots in the PR area that always produce birds, and this year I'm seeing birds in spots that I typically bypass. Birds must be up in the area...

As for colors, we've always called the "red-phased" birds browns, because we call the birds with the chocolate or rust colored sub-terminal bands red-phased.

Shot 7 over the weekend, only one brown...

matthothand, where were you hunting? I'd love to get into some sprucies!

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Park Rapids hunting was good for me also. There were two of us, hunted about 3 hrs and shot 7 birds. Figured we flushed close to 25, most just flew the wrong direction.

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Matt, shot 4 on sunday 3 grey-and 1 was an awesome light carmel color would of been an awesome bird to mount but the guy that shot it said nay..Keep shooting em and bringin the reports..uplander

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uplander, we should meet up sometime to get some birding in!

Tippman, let me know when you're hunting around PR as well, we could meet up and hit some birds!

Here's what I refer to as a "red-phased" ruffie, although it's actually a grey-phased bird... They have the rusty ruff and sub-terminal band. Having the dog come back with these beauties is my favorite thing in the world!

redsubruffth5.jpg

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Matt, this is an interesting thread. I don't think I've noticed a bird with the black bands in the tail colored like that. Here's my pic of a bird this year and it has solid black bands. I guess I've always called the grayish birds like yours gray-phased and the reddish birds the red-phase or brown-phased.

2956604815_9cb2bb200c.jpg

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Matt, nice lookin bird, love that chestnut band, love to get up that way and do some birding. Weekends are tough right now because I'm coaching my kids hockey team. So Mon- Wed work best fo me..This Mon plan to be up just east of Hill City. I know weekdays aren't that good for everyone else, sure makes things less crowded in the woods. Your welcome to join on Monday, let me know..uplander

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Haven't looked into the color phases much, but sexing and aging are reliable usnig tail feathers. Generally the longer tail feathers are males(6"+)and shorter on females(<6")of the adults. Of course there is some room for error if they are borderline. Juveniles will have longer middle tail feathers than the rest. Just a couple of tidbits for anyone who didn't know.

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Sexing and aging are really only dependable when it comes to the crest on the head, the wing, or the sub-terminal band on the birds tail. If the band is full and non-broken across the middle two tail feathers, it's a male. If there is a break in the band, female. Males also have an orange crest above their eye that is tough to see, but visible when you pull the feathers above the eye upward...

The "sexing by tail length" thing is tough, since juvenile birds break the bank on this technique, as do the stunts that often happen in grouse fans...

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Nice color on that grouse. I might be up a couple more times this year for duck/grouse/muskie trips to the PR area. I have an open schedule the first two weeks of November when I'm not deer hunting at least. Drop an e-mail if you want.

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Tippman... you and I have to be the only 2 idiots awake right now....I'm a bartender ...what's your excuse?

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