This story was originally published in May 2022.
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The first time you hear it when in the woods, it likely will startle you.
I recall walking along a tote road during deer hunting season and stopping in my tracks thinking, what is that sound?
Honestly, the closest approximation I could make was that it was a gorilla beating its chest. It seemed to be that loud.
Wait, we don’t have wild gorillas in Maine.
Then I remembered former Bangor Daily News colleague John Holyoke having told me about how ruffed grouse flutter their wings in such a way as to produce a loud, rhythmic, pulsating sound.
The so-called drumming of a ruffed grouse is a cool thing to hear — once you know what it is. More amazing still is what that activity looks like.
More often than not, the grouse are on or near the ground and obscured by bushes and trees. Today, thanks to Colin Chase, you have the chance to see exactly how this popular Maine game bird produces the drumming sound.
Chase’s video from last month is a real gem, showing a ruffed grouse standing on an old, mossy blowdown, drumming. It almost sounds as though somebody is trying to start up an engine, which sputters and fails to ignite.
According to a 2020 BDN story, the behavior represents an early stage of the ruffed grouse’s courtship ritual. The male ruffed grouse beats its wings to attract the attention of potential mates that might be in the neighborhood.
I can tell you from experience that as impressive as the video is, the way the drumming sound resonates in the woods is much more dramatic than what you hear on the video.
Chase’s video is a real treat, especially when he slows down the footage to provide a slow-motion look at the drumming. Now that is really cool!
Thanks again to Colin Chase for sharing the footage. You can subscribe to his Maine Woodsbooger YouTube channel to check out his amazing video offerings.