Originally Posted by volantaddict
I saw a bird, I think it's a female pheasant, it was the right size at least.
It's a little hard to tell exactly which kind, but it's definitely a grouse. Probably a Blue Grouse but perhaps a Ruffed. It looks to have the bluish neck/head that would identify it as a Blue.
Around here, they're just starting to show up on the melting-out south meadowy areas in the higher elevations. If you keep hiking your mountain over the next three or four weeks, you'll probably see more and more of them. They're particularly visible early in the mornings not long after sunrise.
What's cool about these guys is that the males will start puffing and drumming for you. Mating season is starting and they'll be out trolling for dates. You'll see the males strutting around with all their tail feathers spread (like a turkey or a peacock) and their breast feathers puffed out. You'll see two males walking around each other like that, especially if there's a female in the vicinity. They walk really stiffly and it looks comical and stupid - unless you're a female grouse, I guess.
You might also hear the males drumming or galumping. I believe that the male Blue grouse makes a "kaloomp" sound when he's trying to impress females. The male Ruffed grouse makes a drumming sound, which I think comes from some kind of lung cavity.
Grouse are not the shapest arrows in the quiver. It's often possible to walk right up to them, especially this time of year. Supposedly, Native Americans used to hunt them for food by just walking around and throwing rocks at them. Here in Jackson Hole, I'm convinced I could kill three or four on every hike just by taking a tennis racquet along.
Nice pics. It looks like lots of fun.
Edited to add: Is that photo a great example of natural camoflage or what? Look how well that bird blends in with its background!