November, Thanksgiving Day and turkey are synonymous to the average American but in spite of the variety of birds in the Park the Sooty Grouse is the nearest thing we have to the regal bird who annually graces the festive boards of many American homes.
Perhaps you know the Sooty Grouse as the "hooter" for one of his chief characteristics is the throaty hooting that is often kept up for long periods. To some this continued vocal effort is a sign of rain--like the continued call of the dove--but this theory is not borne out by fact. The Sooty Grouse is a handsome bird, about the size of the domestic hen and its dark slate or "sooty" color is finely mottled with grey and brown. Thus, like many other of Nature's children, it finds its chief protection in the fact that it looks like the region in which it lives. We find it in meadows between 4000 and 6000 feet, strutting about in the huckleberry patches or perched on a gnarled limb of a Mountain Hemlock surveying the passer-by with a calm deliberation that bespeaks of a total absence of fear.
He has two very close relatives in the Park--the Ptarmigan of the high alpine slopes and the Oregon Ruffed Grouse of the lower elevations.
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