Drumming Log Habitat Selection by Male Ruffed Grouse in North Carolina

We evaluated ruffed grouse Bonasa umbellus drumming logs in western North Carolina to determine criteria used by male grouse in selecting drumming sites. For every drumming log found (N = 34), we selected a random log within the same stand type and with a similar topographic position. We collected data on drumming log characteristics and on vegetation surrounding the drumming site. We found 85% (N = 29) of drumming logs on or near a ridge top in a mature (>40 years old) oak/hickory (Quercus/Carya) or northern hardwood forest stand with a dense mid-story of mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) and or flame azalea (Rhododendron calendulaceum). There was no difference in physical characteristics of logs, basal area, or woody understory density between drumming logs and random logs (P>0.05). mid-story density and vertical vegetation density were greater at drumming logs than at random logs (P > 0.01). Retaining mature stands on ridge tops that contain a dense mid-story of mountain laurel and flame azalea, while harvesting timber on mid- and lower-slopes will improve interspersion of habitats used by male and female ruffed grouse during the breeding season in the southern Appalachians.

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