Nesting Success of Ruffed Grouse in West Virginia

Ruffed grouse densities are lower in the southern portion of its range than in the more northern reaches. It has been suggested that the lower productivity of ruffed grouse in southern latitudes may account for lower population densities. We examined nesting success of ruffed grouse Bonasa umbellus at 2 sites in West Virginia during 1998 and 1999. We located nests of radio-collared female grouse and determined proportion of females that nested, nest success (proportion of hens successful in hatching ?1 chick), clutch size, hatching success, and hatch dates. Proportion of hens that attempted to nest, nesting success, and average clutch size and hatching success was similar between age classes, sites, and years. Depredation was the major cause of nest failure, with 30% of nests monitored over the two-year period being disturbed or destroyed. Nests monitored via video cameras revealed raccoons (Procyon lotor) and black rat snakes (Elaphe o. obsoleta) were common nest predators. Nesting success and nest depredation rates of ruffed grouse in West Virginia were found comparable to those in other portions of the range, however, renest rates were considerably lower.

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