Use of Spring Drumming Counts to Index Ruffed Grouse Populations in the Southern Appalachians

We studied ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus) drumming behavior in the southern Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. We conducted drumming counts from late March through mid-April 2002-2004. Concurrent with drumming counts, radio-tagged males (N = 30) were monitored to determine proportion of males drumming. Drumming activity increased from late March (20% of males drumming) to a peak in mid-April (56%-69% of males drumming). Consistent drumming coincided with mean nest initiation date by females (12 April, N = 44). Drumming count results were related to fall trapping success on the study area. Drumming counts appear to be an effective tool to monitor grouse population trends in the southern Appalachians. In our area, we recommend planning drumming counts during the peak drumming period of 9-16 April. Key words: Appalachians, Bonasa umbellus, drumming, North Carolina, population index, ruffed grouse.

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