Family Pheasants, Partridges, Turkeys, Grouse (Phasianidae)

Least Concern

Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus)


French: Gélinotte huppée German: Kragenhuhn Spanish: Grévol engolado

Tetrao umbellus


, 1766,

Pennsylvania, USA


Known to have hybridized, very rarely, with Falcipennis canadensis. Variation complex, and compounded by existence of both grey and brown morphs, as well as intermediates; some geographical variation clinal. Different subspecies and colour morphs are linked to both climatic factors and specific vegetation zones#R. Some of the races listed (e.g. affinis, thayeri, helmei) may not be tenable. Sixteen subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • B. u. yukonensis Grinnell, 1916 – W Alaska E to C Canada (C Yukon to N Alberta and NW Saskatchewan).
  • B. u. umbelloides (Douglas, 1829) – SE Alaska and N British Columbia E through C Alberta, C Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario to Quebec, S in USA to W Montana, W Idaho and extreme NW Wyoming.
  • B. u. labradorensis Ouellet, 1991 – Labrador Peninsula to SE Quebec (E Canada).
  • B. u. sabini (Douglas, 1829) – Pacific coast from SW British Columbia (Chilliwack, Fraser Valley) S through Washington and Oregon to NW California.
  • B. u. brunnescens Conover, 1935 – Vancouver I and adjacent areas of British Columbia N to Kingcome R (SW Canada).
  • B. u. castanea Aldrich & Friedmann, 1943 – extreme NW USA (Olympic Peninsula and Puget Sound) S through W Washington and, probably, coastal fog belt of Oregon.
  • B. u. affinis Aldrich & Friedmann, 1943 – inland British Columbia S to C Oregon.
  • B. u. phaios Aldrich & Friedmann, 1943 – SE British Columbia S in USA to E Oregon and SC Idaho.
  • B. u. incana Aldrich & Friedmann, 1943 – CS Canada (S Saskatchewan, SW Manitoba) S in USA to SE Idaho, W Wyoming, C Utah and NE North Dakota.
  • B. u. mediana Todd, 1940 – E USA from EC Minnesota, S Wisconsin and SW Michigan S to C Arkansas and W Tennessee.
  • B. u. obscura Todd, 1947 – SC Canada (N Ontario and C Quebec).
  • B. u. togata (Linnaeus, 1766) – S Ontario and S Quebec S to NE Minnesota, N Wisconsin, C Michigan, C New York, W Massachusetts and NW Connecticut.
  • B. u. thayeri Bangs, 1912 – Nova Scotia.
  • B. u. monticola Todd, 1940 – SE Michigan, extreme S Ontario, Ohio and Pennsylvania S through Appalachian Mts to N Georgia, E to W Carolinas, W Virginia and W Maryland.
  • B. u. umbellus (Linnaeus, 1766) – C New York and C Massachusetts S to E Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
  • B. u. helmei Bailey, 1941 – Long I, in New York (NE USA).
  • Introduced in Newfoundland, Nevada and other areas; reintroduced in Arkansas, Kansas, Illinois and Missouri.

    Descriptive notes

    43–48 cm; male c. 600–840 g, female c. 495–585 g. Relatively large grouse, with short crest, fan-shaped tail with highly distinctive dark subterminal band,... read more


    In display, male produces a low-pitched mechanical drumming sound with wings, starting slowly and... read more


    High diversity of woodland types in extensive range, from typical boreal forest to Pacific coast... read more

    Food and feeding

    During winter, largely buds and twigs of trees, especially in regions of continuous snow cover. Male flower buds of aspens (e.g. ... read more


    Lays mostly in May; in SE of range peak drumming is in mid Apr; in N Michigan median hatching dates were 10 Jun for first nests and 1 Jul... read more


    Highly sedentary, with S populations apparently inhabiting larger home ranges than N birds and... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Widespread and fairly common throughout most of original range, with numbers generally stable and secure in Canada and W USA (.e... read more

    Recommended citation

    de Juana, E., Kirwan, G.M. & Boesman, P. (2020). Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 7 April 2020).