Signs of a great spring in Maine... Cold , wet, springs can mean high mortality for Partridge in Maine. When conditions are right, usually on the dryer side... It will promote better survivability for the birds.
IFW wildlife biologist Amanda DeMusz discovered this grouse nest in Nashville Plantation last week, showing a full clutch of eggs, typical for this time of year. Ruffed grouse are ground nesters, and usually build their nest at the base of a tree, stump or rock, to provide protection from predators. The hollowed-out depression is usually lined with materials gathered near the nest. Grouse lay anywhere from 8-14 eggs, generally laying an egg a day over a two-week period. The female will incubate the eggs for almost four weeks, and once the eggs hatch, grouse chicks immediately begin feeding around the nest, and generally will begin flying after five days. Why do grouse lay so many eggs? Because generally very few chicks survive their first year. Grouse have an extremely high mortality rate. Of the 12 eggs that were laid, six grouse chicks will be fortunate to make it to August. By the end of fall, it’s likely another three have died. Over winter, mortality rates for grouse hover around 10 percent. As grouse are arguably the most popular game bird in Maine, IFW, in conjunction with the University of Maine, is in the midst of a study that focuses on grouse in two different locations in the state. The department is capturing and radio-tagging grouse to learn more about birth and survival rates, grouse habitat, and age. Data collected will be combined with drumming surveys conducted in the spring. This will give the department solid, local biological science which will be used to manage the grouse population.