In recent years midwinter has become our busiest season. So now as Iíve traded wandering in the woods for glancing out the window as I fill orders, itís given me an excuse to observe our visiting blue grouse on a daily basis. Maybe even getting into his head and trying to figure out his motives.
Every morning he appears to peck at our sunflower seeds. There doesnít seem to be any consistency on arrival time as he may already be here at dawn, but then again might not appear until 11. About that time we worry he is not going to show and scenarios of him being grabbed by a coyote or fox run through our heads. But then there he comes. Methodically strutting in.
One thing that has stayed consistent is his strange midday habit. After feeding he will purposely stroll to an untracked section of our yard. When he finds a likely spot the grouse will begin digging straight down with his feet until he is below snow level. Then with his head he burrows under the snow until disappearing with only a small hole showing his point of entrance. After three or four hours his body heat causes the snow to sink, showing where he is hidden. When evening approaches his head will suddenly appear checking out his surroundings. Soon the big grouse slowly emerges. Returning to feed on sunflower seeds once more.
At dusk he strolls up our drive to our snowshoe trail. Heíll follow it into the woods where heíll find a perch 15 to 20 feet up a spruce. Sometime after dark the grouse will leave itsí perch to plunge deep into the snow where heíll spend the night, safe and warm with no trail leading to his hiding spot.