Woodland Drummer – Ruffed Grouse
(scroll down for description)
12” x 24”, oil, 1980
During the spring and early summer in the forests of much of North America, you might hear a low, patterned thumping. The sound almost seems to be in your head. If it is far away, it can resemble the beating of your own heart. It is more a feeling than a sound. It starts as a steady, strong, slow beat and gradually gets faster, ending in a whir. This, of course, is the territorial drumming of the ruffed grouse.

The male picks a significant location in his territory, often a mossy log, and takes a rather rigid vertical pose. He then beats his short, stout wings in quick, forward strokes. The rushing air creates a booming sound, much in the same way as the sound of thunder is created.

Grouse country is beautiful country, and drumming season is a beautiful time of year. This scene is actually near our house, a favourite corner of the woods. As in most of my pictures, I reconstruct a moment which could have happened. I did not actually see a grouse at that exact spot. I tried to create the atmosphere of a lustrous spring day -- tranquil, yet rich with energy and life.