Spruce Grouse (Falcipennis canadensis)

February 9, 2009 by  
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The Spruce Grouse, Falcipennis canadensis, can be found throughout Canada excepting for the extreme north. Then in the United States you can find the Grouse in Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, Northern New England and Michigan. The Spruce Grouse lives in forests that contain coniferous trees, especially if they are pine and spruce trees.

The Spruce Grouse is 13 inches long and is a medium-sized, stocky, chicken-looking bird with rounded wings and a long squarish tail. The male grouse looks similar to the Blue Grouse, the only difference being the white barring and spotting on his under parts, as the Blue Grouse is totally brown. Another small difference is the tip of the tail, which is grey/black in comparison to the Spruce Grouse who has a brown tip. The “Franklin” variety of the Spruce Grouse doesn’t have the brown tip but has a white speckled upper tail.

The adult male bird wears a red comb that just covers his eyes. His neck is black, excepting for the white border around it, and his belly is grey with white spots and has black barring on the upper parts. His breast is black and has white bars going across it and his upper tail is black speckled with white spots and a pale brown band at the top.

The adult female bird has a reddish-brown or grey-brown plumage that is covered with white and dark-brown barring on the under parts and a black tail with the same brown band. She does not have the red comb like her male counterpart. The female Spruce Grouse looks very alike the female Blue Grouse but has white and black barring on her belly and the band on the tail is brown not grey. The female will make a nest on the ground, which is camouflaged well by the ground cover. The Spruce Grouse is a permanent resident but will move a small distance by foot if they need another location for winter.

During winter these birds will look for food either on the ground or in trees. The grouse is well adapted and their digestive sacs in their intestines can enlarge in size to quite an extent to accommodate the grouse’s winter diet of conifer needles. In summer they will include in their diet berries, insects and a variety of green plants. If you happen to come upon a Spruce grouse they tend to stand still even if you are only a few feet away from them. However, in the winter months they become more skittish due to lack of camouflaging and will take flight if you come within 20 to 150 feet of them.

Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)

February 9, 2009 by  
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The Golden eagle’s scientific name is Aquila chrysaetos and it is part of the Booted or True Eagle family. These beautiful birds can be found throughout the northern hemisphere, living in prairie coulees, mountainous areas and in rugged terrains that create a profuse amount of updrafts.

The golden eagle is about 3 feet or just under a metre, weighing about 15 pounds or 7 kg’s and has a wingspan of about 7 feet or 2 metres. The colour of the eagle is a dark yellowish brown and the bird can live between fifteen and twenty years.

The golden eagle’s territory is in remote areas where it lives a solitary life even through winter. This great hunter, hunts in a large territory that can be up to 162 square miles or 260 square km in size. Due to its expertise in hunting it’s not very often that you will see it eating carrion. The golden eagle eats a wide variety of small animals like the marmots, groundhogs, snakes, pheasants, rabbits, cats, foxes, skunks, grouse, ground squirrel, meadowlarks, crows and tortoises.

The golden eagle will start mating at the age of four years and will stay paired with the same mate for as long as it lives. Occasionally they build their nest in a tree but prefer to nest on cliff faces or in rocky crags, returning every year to the same nest. The female golden eagle will lay between one to three eggs once every year and will do the majority of the 41 to 45 day incubation of the eggs. The male golden eagle’s job is to regularly supply the female with food and together they share the responsibility of looking after and raising the young. When the eaglets are first born they weigh about three ounces and will stay in the nest between nine to eleven weeks before they fledge.

Depending on the territory of the golden eagle, they will either live in their nesting territory throughout the year, or if there is a lack of food in winter, they will migrate a short distance away because of their excellent hunting abilities.

Black Grouse Saved from Extinction

March 26, 2008 by  
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The Black Grouse appears on the IUCN Red List of endangered species and was considered to be one of the bird species most likely to become extinct. However, through the dedicated efforts of conservation groups over the past two decades, the dramatic decline of this rare bird has not only been halted, but turned around, and Black Grouse numbers in the northern Pennines are slowly rising.

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