Blue Grouse (Dendragapus obscurus) are common throughout most of BC. They can be found in most forests, woodlands, and lowlands. When winter arrives, they move to higher elevations. Females are mottled brown with a gray underside. Males have a prominent yellow-orange comb and white-based feathers covering a bare spot on the side of the neck that is inflated to amplify hooting. A coastal subspecies is known as the Sooty Grouse (D.o. fuliginosus). They can be distinguished by their darker tone to their plumage.
You know spring has arrived when you hear the thumping sounds of mating grouse. The drumming sound is created when the male sits on a high branch and beats his wings. When a female arrives, if she deems him to be a qualified candidate, mating occurs.
When Wayne and I first heard the thumping sound, we thought it was treetops hitting each other in the wind. We named it Thumper. Later when John told us the true source of the sound we felt a bit foolish.
On summer quad rides in the Powell River backcountry you are guaranteed to see one or more grouse flying up from the roadside. Some are obviously leading you away from a nearby nest. I found this female on Diane Main, sitting still long enough for a photo opportunity. -- Margy
References: Field Guide to the Birds of North America (National Geographic, 2002) and Complete Birds of North America edited by Jonathan Alderfer (National Geographic, 2014).
p.s. Determining the type of grouse was hard for me. They are so similar. If anyone out there is a bird expert, let me know what you think.