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Thread: Ruffed Grouse eating spruce needles?

  1. #1
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    Default Ruffed Grouse eating spruce needles?

    A friend on the Kenai Peninsula recently shot a ruffed grouse and discovered the crop full of spruce needles. In 40 years of hunting ruffs here in Alaska I've never seen, or even heard of this. Neither has ADF&G or any other hunters that have been asked.

    Wondering if anyone here has seen spruce needles in a ruffed grouse crop?

    Thanks,

    Jim

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    have seen it in spruce grouse very often...not sure about ruffs....They dont have very diligent beaks, like say a magpie or chickadee, and they may be attemping to eat insect eggs off of the spruce needles, so they probly end up swallowing alot of them



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    Spruce grouse deliberately change to eating spruce needles begining around late September, earlier than it appears they should because there are still a variety of other foods available to them, like succulent berries and buds and catkins. But they seem to understand the need to allow their systems time to transition to the spruce needle diet of winter. Spruce grouse have evolved in that manner. But ruffed grouse have not. Interesting stuff. Wildlife, if given the opportunity, will do anything they darn well feel like doing, although, in some cases it could easily cause their untimely demise.

    Thanks for posting Hunt and Fish AK!

    Jim

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    never seen needles in a ruff (probably looked in a few dozen crops) but hunkering down for an extended hunker in a spruce well and then getting hungry doesn't stretch the imagination too much.

    I almost always find highbush cranberries present, all winter long, and other misc. seeds.

  5. #5
    Member mit's Avatar
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    I think I have but.... It might have been a spruce hen? I will pay close attention form now on..
    Tim

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    I have once about this time of year in the willow area he was plum full of neddles

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    Thanks, Jake. Very interesting.

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    Jim, after some more thought, I think I have only seen this in birds in late winter/spring, and usually in old clearcuts or burns regrowing with mixed spruce and aspen. I shot one bird out off of Rosy Creek Road this past spring, but I can't think of any other specific instances.

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    Miller,

    Thanks. Interestingly, Bump wrote in his 1947 NY state study that some ruffs will pick up some spruce needles now and then, while others will have a full crop. Strange behavior.

    Jim

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    Starvation maybe? Comes across some spruce grouse and starts to eat what they are eating?

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    I have seen it a lot in Spruce Hens on the KP. Their meat always went down hill to me when they started eating needles so I stopped shooting them once needles starting showing up in them. That usually was always around the begining of October.
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