After I posted my Spruce Grouse video, I found this really awesome video of a “Franklin’s” Spruce Grouse. This sub-species of the Spruce Grouse is only found in the northern Rockies and Cascade mountain ranges. Part of their display flight is a “wing-clap” which is shown in this video. I’ve heard the wing clap described as sounding like a shotgun. Watch the video and decide for yourself, either way it’s pretty cool! Kudos to the person who had the opportunity to video tape this bird in action.
Last Thursday, I spent over an hour with a very cooperative “displaying” Spruce Grouse.
He spent all his time flying back and forth from one pre-determined branch to the ground.
I think he may have fallen in love with the click of the shutter of my camera as he would puff up and click his tail in response. Or he could have thought it was another male Grouse challenging him.
Spruce Grouse display
Immeadiately before he would fly up, he would flick his wings once. Here is he preparing to flick his wings.
Only one time would he flutter his wings, then he would hesitate for a second before flying up to his perch. It was a great thundering sound when he flew up.
He would spread his tail and then quickly snap it shut, making a clicking sound. He took a little rest at one point and I watched as he ate Jack Pine needles.
Eventually, I stood right on his lek and he flew directly at me. I thought he was going to land on my head, but he lit just to my right on the ground – I could have reached out and touched him. He then cocked his head to the side and stared up at me. We looked at each other for a few seconds then he walked away to once again fly up to his favored branch. Back and forth he would go, over and over again, landing right next to me and then walking away to fly up to his branch.
At one point, a group of 6 Boreal Chickadees worked their way through the Jack Pine. It was fun to hear their spring song mixed in with their “chick-a-day, days”. Other birds heard were Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Hermit Thrush.
I had been waiting to see the “flight display” for some time. I heard the thunder of wings in the silent woods and that is what attracted my attention. I saw the bird through the trees and thought I might spook him as I thrashed through the brush. He didn’t spook at all and I think he thought the shutter noise of my camera was another male clicking his tail. It was tons of fun!
Saturday was a truly incredible day at Crane Lake. A late season snowstorm sent birds to the feeders by the hundreds. There were so many birds flitting around it was total chaos. Luckily I had enough seed to put out for the hungry hoards, but now I am running very low.
It was weird to see Song Sparrows, Chipping Sparrows, and Tree Sparrows feeding alongside Redpolls and Pine Siskins. Juncos, Purple Finches, Red-wing Blackbirds and Grackles were all eating seeds. Even a pair of Mallard Ducks were in the yard eating sunflower seeds and cracked corn.
All the activity attracted other birds too like the Bohemian Waxwings that came in.
Bohemian Waxwings usually don’t eat sunflower seeds, they are fruit-eating birds. In the winter they can be seen around Minnesota in trees that still have fruit clinging, like Mountain Ash trees or Apple trees, including Crabapples.
They didn’t really find any food in my yard, but they stuck around and napped for quite a while. Bohemians are bigger than their cousins the Cedar Waxwings, other field marks include their gray coloring and most importantly the chestnut colored undertail coverts, which can easily be seen on these photos.
This bird woke up for a bit and seemed to be complaining about the inclement weather.
This bird had his head tucked in so far he looked headless!
The hundreds of small songbirds also attracted more ominous company as well. A Merlin Falcon streaked through the yard at least 3 times that I saw. She was successful on each of her hunts. This small Falcon is truly a magnificent hunter – she grabbed small birds out of thin air as they tried to escape. The small size of the Falcon, short tail, and facial stripes, along with an all-dark eye differentiate this small bird hunter from the equally aggressive and small Sharp-shinned Hawk.