Spruce Grouse and Brown Thrashers

Spruce Grouse

Last week on a back road by the Echo Trail I had a Spruce Grouse fly up in front of my car. I was driving slowly down a two-rut road when the Spruce Grouse flushed from the side of the road. The chestnut colored tips on the tail are a reliable field mark. I got out of the car and followed the Grouse into the woods. You can get pretty close to these birds, their lack of shyness has earned them the nickname “fool hen”.

Spruce Grouse

I think this bird was a young female; she didn’t seem to be fully grown. The other thing about this bird is that she was quite brown – Spruce Grouse are usually very gray – but the white feathers on her backside and the ruddy brown tips on the tail told me she was definitely a Spruce Grouse.

A little ways later a reddish brown thrush-like bird flew up from the road – but this bird was a lot bigger than a thrush. I thought Brown Thrasher, but I was surprised, I’m not used to seeing this bird in the thick coniferous woods of Superior National Forest. I got out of the car and aimed my binoculars in the trees – and yes, it was a Brown Thrasher. He was looking back at me with his big yellow eyes (thrushes have dark brown eyes) and there were a pair of them – could they be nesting? According to the checklist Birds Of Superior National Forest breeding Brown Thrashers are very rare.

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