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Citation. Archibald, H. L. 1974. Directional differences in the sound intensity of ruffed grouse drumming. The Auk 91(3):517-521.   [1232  CC]

Abstract. Students have long been intigued by the drumming of the Ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus). Physically, drumming is a wingbeating display perfomed from a stationary position, usually upon an elevated object known as a "drumming log." The drumming performance has been described in detail by Bump et al. (1947: 274-276) and Hjorth (1970: 220-225). Functionally, drumming is believed to correspond fully to song, which is lacking in the species (Hjorth 1970: 497) to facilitate spacing of males (Allen 1937, Fowle 1953: 91), stimulate female sexual development (Hjorth 1970: 497, and to attract females (Allen 1934, Brander 1967). Numerous ideas have been advanced about how the noise is produced (cf. Bump et al. 1947: 276-278). Recently, Hjorth (1970: 225-233) has suggested new explanations of the related questions of how the sound is generated and how the grouse is able to maintain its balance during the drumming performance. The number of wingbeats in and the duration of a drum are variable both within and among individuals (Aubin 1972). The drumming sound is audible to the human ear up to distances of 1/8 to 1/4 mile (Sumanik 1966: 38) or more. Although grouse have been reported to turn their heads in reaction to neighbors' drums (Hjorth 1970: 489), no reports of how far a grouse can perceive drumming are available in the literature. Use of the radiotelemetric method has enabled the remote determination of several kinds of activity patterns including drumming (Marshall and Kupa 1963). By listening to both the sound of the drums and transmitter signal of a radio-marked grouse, I found that the distance I could hear drums seemed to vary according to the direction in which the drumming bird faced. The purpose of the investigation reported here was to confirm the observation that the drumming sound, independent of vegetation and topographic features, is directional.

Keywords. ruffed grouse, Bonasa umbellus, drumming, directional, radiotelemetry

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