Ruffed Grouse Food Availability in Southwestern Virginia

We initiated a pilot study of fall and winter ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus) habitat use, forage availability, and forage-based carrying capacities for an area in southwestern Virginia. Flush counts indicated grouse densities were low and that grouse preferred clearcuts in the fall. Fall forages appeared adequate to support moderate grouse populations. High quality forages (mast and herbaceous leaves) were scarce during the winter and resulted in low carrying capacity estimates. Evergreen forages were abundant in both seasons but toxic properties likely limited their utility.

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