Dinosaur’s Descendent

Santa Fe New Mexico hiking

Brave Mama! This weekend brought a very unusual encounter. Although we’ve seen lots of Dusky Grouse (formerly called Blue Grouse) with their striped chicks before, we’ve never been chased by one.

These chicken-sized birds are quick to alert their chicks of approaching danger and typically perch or stand their ground for the few moments it takes for the chicks to scurry to safety.

However, this determined mother circled us even as we tried to go around and leave the family in peace (unfortunately, the grouse were directly between us and our trailhead). She stayed within 15 feet of us most of the time, so there was no mistaking her intent.

Santa Fe hike

Barring our path

For twenty yards, the puffed-up mama grouse strutted stiffly or madly dashed, crisscrossing in front of our path “grousing” at us all the while. If we turned, she headed us off. If we sped up, so did she. Finally, when we were judged to be far enough away, Mama slicked down her ruffled feathers and ran back to her chicks–and all disappeared into the brush instantly.

For more on this fine mountain bird, see the previous blog post “Grousing About Company“.

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