Pennsylvania Ruffed Grouse

2018 Association for Conservation Information 3rd Place, Video Long
2018 Outdoor Film Festival & Tour Official Selection
2018 NatureTrack Film Festival Official Selection
2017 The University of Idaho Fish & Wildlife Film Festival Official Selection
2017 FINN Film Festival Official Selection
2017 Wildlife Conservation Film Festival Official Selection
2017 American Conservation Film Festival Official Selection

Between the periods of 2001-05 the ruffed grouse population suffered a 63% decline statewide. No one was sure why but in 2015 and through 2016 it has been confirmed that our state bird is suffering losses due to West Nile Virus (WNV) infection. Lisa Williams, Pennsylvania Game Commission ruffed grouse biologist, managed to create a network to look for ruffed grouse eggs in the wild, collect those eggs, find a propagator with a quarintine facility, and get those eggs all the way to that facility in Idaho via a volunteer force. Once hatched, the propagator then volunteered to drive the young chicks to the lab where the challenge study was carried out. Chicks were innoculated with WNV and within the first week 40% of the chicks died. After two weeks, an additional 40% of the chicks showed so much organ damage that they probably would not have survived in the wild.

After the challenge study was completed the findings in the lab were then tested on wild grouse in Pennsylvania. This type of study is very rare in the wildlife sciences: where lab findings are then tested in wild populations. Lisa rallied hundreds of hunters across the state to send in blood samples when they harvested a grouse.

By incorporating these findings into habitat management planning, the Game Commission and partners hope to direct habitat management efforts to areas where grouse populations have the best chance of responding.  

The Ruffed Grouse is Pennsylvania’s State Bird and makes a low-pitched drumming sound to advertise their territory. Males do this by drawing their wings toward their chest and create little sonic booms.

Cinematography: Tracy A. Graziano & Hal Korber
Video Editing: Tracy A. Graziano

#habitat #education #research #wildlife #birdbanding #nature #science #biology #pagamecommission #pgc #pennsylvania #pennsylvaniagamecommission #conservation #bird #ruffedgrouse #WestNileVirus #WestNile #statebird


  1. Coyotes… they are killing everything good we have/had… they hunt continually and can wipe out a whole flock of baby turkeys,grouse etc before they are old enough to fly..I know coyotes have to eat too but they are a worthless menace to our forests so are the big cats we see..fisher cats too. Why did we need our woods polluted with this trash,, it's not a question where they came from.. its what was the purpose.. To kill fawns ? Well they are killing everything.. take deer off comprehensive insurance claims and everyone will be blaming something else for their crashes… this might sound stupid and it is. But. I've known ppl who carried a ziplock in their glove boxes that had deer hair in them so it could be thrown in the cars grill and a deer would be blamed for a crash if one occurred just to turn it in under comprehensive. .I never agreed with it but it happens..whats a trailer load of coyotes cost.. we fixed a guys tire one night several years ago that was hauling his second load of them here to pa to be released i guess you could say they were migrating..right…

  2. I'm a bird and wildlife lover. The cover of PA GAME NEWS April 2019 magazine got my attention. Like me, people love and want to protect wildlife. For the last couple of years when i took walks in the woods, i was hoping to se a grouse, never did. Why is this information is just being published now? Does your department have a television show?

  3. Excellent article – thanks for your dedication. I live in Wisconsin. I really took note of the song birds you identified as being impacted by WNV. The goldfinches that were daily visitors to my feeder… are gone. Thanks for all of your hard work!

  4. I have never shot a grouse(only missed the few I saw when I was younger), but I flushed three a few weeks ago along a mountain top I was deer hunting on. This was encouraging as I've never really experienced proper grouse hunting.

  5. Watching this film you have proven that a Ruffed Grouse will die from West Nile but have not heard anything as to results of blood samples sent by hunters. At this point you have not proven that the Ruffed Grouse decline is due to West Nile or did I miss something in the video?

  6. I feel the uncontrolled pop. of Hawks and Owls has a very big impact on the small game in Pa. and other states. I understand they were endangered at one time but there numbers must be at an all time high. There federally protected because there considered migratory birds but it is not uncommon for these birds to remain in the state the entire year. Why can't there be a controlled hunting season for these predators. I know my view is considered extreme but maybe worth consideration.

  7. Makes one think about a lot things,,, mosquito abatement thru good water management, and providing clean, high h20 water habitat for mosquito predators? Along with more young forests, this can help the ruffed grouse.

  8. Suitable habitat, yet have not seen or heard a Grouse in a decade, sold my shotgun for lack of use. Very depressing. Washington Co. Far north west area. The only species on the increase in this area are Coyotes. When I was in my teens first hunting (mid 1970's) never did I think I would see, let alone shoot a Coyote in my lifetime. Now they are so common here I would rather shoot them over a choice of what's left of the deer herd on my land. Nor do I hunt Turkey any longer on my place for the same reason. Population crash of all species that I use to hunt. I hope the PGC finally realizes that a Pheasant recovery program is a futile effort and a waste of Licensing revenue. The same would likely be true for a Grouse program. I believe the situation on my farm is NOT unique and will remain this way for quite so time to come.

  9. I belong to a hunting camp in tioga county next to the pine creek ( pa grand canyon). We own 215 acers and have had a decent population of grouse for as long as I have been a member (8 years). The past couple of years that I have been archery hunting up there I'm constantly hearing them drum. We would like to help in the conservation efforts anyway we can. if someone could give us the information to contact who we have to we would appreciate it.

  10. Based on the information provided I do truly believe that west nile is and will be a contributing factor in pa grouse population health. I have yet to see the data proving that west nile is wide spread enough in pa have caused the decline that we hunters have seen, its my belief that there are likely a large number of contributing factors. This research is extremely important for both grouse and other species in the northeast and i hope that both this and further research are taken as seriously as Lisa Williams has approached wnv.

  11. The Pennsylvania Game Commission's ruffed grouse film has been chosen as an official selection of the 2017 American Conservation Film Festival! The film was one of 40 official selections thoughtfully chosen from hundreds of submissions from 39 countries around the globe.

  12. I hope the ruffed grouse will endure. Thank you so much to Lisa Williams of the Pennsylvania Game Commission & all of the agencies, associations & individual hunters & conservationists who aided in this comprehensive study, for supporting wildlife.

  13. It seems to me that enough blood data has been collected and maybe the first step to population recovery should be to suspend the hunting of them? Maybe give them what they need to bounce back…time and the right environment. Nature will find Balance again, if we let it. 🤔🙂💜
    Thank you.

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