The drum of the ruffed grouse pulses in spring through the woodlands of Interior Alaska where stands of aspen and birch break the uniformity of the boreal spruce forest. Ruffed grouse are most abundant where dense stands of young aspen or birch have become established after a fire or timber harvest. Ruffed grouse prefer stands that are a mix of ages - young, small, up and coming trees, big mature trees, and fallen dead trees lying on the forest floor. The diversity provides different things for grouse throughout the year.
In winter grouse eat aspen buds and catkins in stands of older, mature trees. In the spring, during the breeding season, male ruffed grouse use drumming logs - they stand on the trunks of fallen trees and beat out their mating call with their powerful wingbeats - ideally under the cover over overhead trees that hide them from predators like goshawks. The hens nest on the ground under fallen trees, or beneath overhanging shrubs. When the chicks hatch they almost immediately leave the nest and forage with the hen amid the underbrush. They need protein in their first month, and scratch around the leaf litter for spiders and insects like grasshoppers. The younger, denser stands of aspen provide excellent cover for chicks in summer, hiding them from predators.