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on Feb 4, 2020 in Wildlife Photography

Unique Survival Strategy

Dusky Grouse
captured by D5 / 180-400

There is a scene in Jeremiah Johnson where they get their dinner by throwing rocks at some birds on the ground. If you meet a Dusky Grouse, you can see how exactly how that is true. About the size of a chicken and I’m told, really tasty, the Dusky Grouse (formally Blue Grouse), when found, is a real easy bird to photograph. That’s because, they seem to be missing the “be very very scared” gene. You don’t need a long lens, you just need light. A lot of folks with iPhones found this out for themselves last week in Yellowstone when this male repeatedly performed for folks at point-blank range. A number of times, it literally flew to the ground right at folk’s feet. They had to WATCH where they stepped so they wouldn’t squash it!

Dusky Grouse
captured by D5 / 180-400

When going about its normal routine, you could watch them feast on these very small fungi that live on the limbs of the Ponderosa Pines. He would walk about the branches in search of this small mushroom and when found, would nibble it all off. Then, it would take advantage of the snow stuck on the limbs for moisture by eating snow. And so it would go about the forest, walking the limbs and feasting. The fact there are a hundred photographers knocking each other over and jumping in front of vehicles that could make snow angels out of them was irrelevant to the grouse. He just wanted to feed. It is amazing to me they survive but they do, with a really unique survival strategy.

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