Bay Journal

Topics: Wildlife + Habitat

Decline of ruffed grouse linked to loss of young-forest habitat

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Ruffed grouse, a strikingly beautiful bird that symbolizes wildness, is in trouble across its native range, including states in the Chesapeake Bay drainage.

The decline is growing in Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, and biologists point to two main causes: widespread loss of young forest habitat and deaths from the mosquito-borne West Nile Virus.

Warmer winters aren’t helping matters either, because grouse burrow into snow banks for protection from predators and the cold.

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About Wildlife + Habitat

The Chesapeake Bay region supports more than 2,700 species of plants and animals, including 348 species of finfish and 173 species of shellfish.

It is also home to at least 29 species of waterfowl. Nearly one million waterfowl winter on the Bay – approximately one-third of the Atlantic coast’s migratory population. The birds stop to feed and rest on the Bay during their annual migration along the Atlantic Flyway.

Nearly 80,000 acres of bay grasses grow in the shallows of the Bay and its tributaries. Young and molting blue crabs rely on bay grass beds for protection from predators.

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