Posted by: atowhee | March 21, 2013


Willows bud, winds blow, creeks rise and fall, testosterone rages. It is the season. Two different depenadbale observers have just told me their personal tales of grouse attack. Yes, male Sooty (or Dusky) Grouse are filled with the belligerent vapors of testosterone this tim eof year. One hiker here in southern Oregon was set upon with wing and beak simply for trespassing recently on the male grouse’s territory. The man was surprised and rather pleased with himself that he gotten some photos. He has promised to share and if so they will appear on my blog. He had not struck back the aggressive 2-pound assailant. Neither party was seriously hurt. A birding friend in Montana lives near Dusky Grouse. Here’s his account of his encounter with Mr. Guerilla-Grouse:
“Last year there were several reports of Dusky Grouse in Montana attacking humans, one was shot and killed by staff at the National Bison Range. I encountered one such bird in the Madison River Valley. Rather than knee jerk, I sat down on the ground with the bird. It moved all around me “growling” and making threats. It climbed on my shoe, then on my knee. I used an index finger to touch it in the chest to count coups. The bird would respond by either pecking at the back of my hand or wrist, or striking my wrist with a wing. The wing strikes were strong blows. The ‘pecks’ were interesting in that they were not pecks per se but the bird would pinch some skin and twist while pulling it away from my body — this was much more painful than a simple stabbing-type peck. The grouse broke my skin several times and left me with other bruises. It was incredibly fast yet I was able to count coups several times. Interestingly, the eye comb color fluctuated between yellow, orange and red and the bird’s level of aggression varied. It seemed to enjoy the sparring. Although the bird inflicted pain (because I subjected myself to it) it was not that great; there is no reason to be afraid of these birds and certainly no excuse for government officials to kill them.”
The grouse killing is the direct result of an urbanized, enervated population. Too many humans think because we have the technology to build roads or cut trees wherever we wish we have th eright to expect all creatures great and small to bow before our might and right. Too many Americans think the wilder parts of our coutnry should be like city parks: no bugs, no bears, no bother. Ane sentient human should be on alert and slightly worried whenever he or she is off-road and off pavement. Otherise, folks should just just go to a zoo where the animals are incarcerated in the spiritual premonition of Guantanamo Prison.
The grouse have been in Montana for millions of years longer than even the first American Indians. And the grouse is not trying to strangle this planet in waste and CO2. Here in Ashland we get suburbanized fools wanting does punished for threatening dogs when the doe is simply protecting her fawn(s). Our police here slaughtered a mountain lion for the capital crime (unbeknownst to the condemnded lion) of entering the city limits. In San Francisco park staff killed a coyote for the heinous crime of looking hard at some lady’s small doggie.
If we allowed the grizzly bear to reclaim its historic range more people already afraid of spiders and grouse could be convinced to simply stay home and watch TV. Those two-dimension images on “Animal Planety” dont’t bite or hiss. They w0n’t even threaten a dog.


  1. Yeah! Well-said Harry.

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