This morning we found an adult ruffled grouse dead in the driveway. There were now marks or indication what so ever as to indicate the cause of death. It was near but not close to the feeders on that side of the house but we have never seen a grouse at the feeders before.

At first we thought a dog might have left it, but there was no obvious feather damage or wounds. Sometimes birds will fly into a window but it lay away from the window so that could not be it. It’s a mystery to be sure.

Perhaps it just walked up and dropped dead form old age or disease. I have found birds like this in the woods, dead from no apparent reason. Ruffled grouse do not migrate so the chances of catching some deadly form of bird flu is doubtful.

They are indigenous to this area and it’s not uncommon to see one since we border a woods.
I remember my first experience with a grouse, although at the time I did not know what it was I heard in the woods. I was about 10 or 11 years old and I was trout fishing in a rather small stream behind the municipal water supply for the Village of Black River NY. I rode my bike to the spot and hid it in the underbrush because the land was posted.

The stream was 1 to 3 feet wide and I used a 4 foot fishing pole with about 4 feet of line tied to the end furl. This was the only gear other than a small hook and tiny red worm. The fish hid under the overhanging banks and the technique was as simple as dangling the bait over the edge.
The trout were usually small, 8 inches or so and native pink.

I can remember being a bit nervous because I was not suppose to be there. It was quiet and the wind was making the swooshing sound it makes when it blows through the tall white pine trees that populated the area.

I was quietly making my way along the bank, trying to be quiet so I did not startle the fish when I heard a thump. It sounded for all the world like someone stamping a big boot on the ground. The area was covered with pine needles from the trees and so the ground was flat with out twigs that would snap and break under foot.

The noise startled me, especially because I thought I was alone in the woods and I stopped fishing to listen. Nothing. Then THUMP, there it was again. I could not tell what direction the noise was coming from but it sounded loud. Then quickly, there it was again, THUMP, THUMP, THUMP.

That was enough for me. I high tailed it back to where my bike was. I calmed down when I entered the light of day and I remember feeling relived that I had made it out with my skin.

I didn’t ask or tell about the experience because I was where I was not supposed to be, and I thought people would think I was a sissy for being scared in the woods.

It wasn’t until years later I heard the noise again while bird hunting but by then I knew what the sound was so I wasn’t scared. Besides I was a few years older and I was carrying a shotgun.

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