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32 www.northmainewoods.org T hese are exciting times for grouse research in the North Maine Woods and beyond. In the North Maine Woods west of Baxter State Park a project is entering its 5th year investigating how spruce grouse populations are responding to different forest management practices. In central and mid-coast Maine a ruffed grouse study is in its second year and is focused on understanding harvest rates and habitat characteristics important to ruffed grouse survival and reproduction. In addition to these two projects spring ruffed grouse drumming surveys are being conducted across the state to monitor ruffed grouse populations at a larger scale. Key to the success of these projects is the collaboration between the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife MDIFW and the University of Maines UMaine Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Con- servation Biology. Spruce grouse are mostly found throughout northern and eastern Maine and can be seen as far south as Mount Desert Island. These birds get their name based on their habits of eating conifer needles throughout much of the year particularly in the winter when they eat almost nothing but. Despite what their name implies spruce grouse will eat not only spruce needles but also needles from fir jack pine and tamarack. The spruce grouse research being conducted in the North Maine Woods is part of a larger project exploring how wildlife use commercially-managed forests and the effects these land-use practices have on species survival reproduction and abundance. Specifically for spruce grouse we want to better-understand how populations perform under the management practices currently being used to produce timber in the North Maine Woods. To achieve this goal the project is using radio-telemetry to evaluate adult survival nest success and the survival of chicks during the summer in areas of different forest management strategies. Results are still preliminary but in 2015 we found that 50 of spruce grouse nests were successful and 73 of females with successful nests raised at least one chick to the beginning of the fall. We also found that females with young chicks used areas of the forest that had greater ground cover made up of leafy green plants and low-growing shrubs. As this work continues and is examined at multiple scales we will explore whether there are differences in survival and nest success under varying management practices. The results of this research will be used to inform habitat guidelines and produce recommendations for spruce grouse conservation in managed conifer forests and to evaluate the stability of spruce grouse populations in the North Maine Woods. As many fall visitors to the North Maine Woods can attest ruffed grouse partridge to many Mainers hunting draws many people to the woods each fall. Similar to the spruce grouse project we are using radio telemetry to track ruffed grouse survival and explore how survival varies among seasons and across years as well as to evaluate ruffed grouse habitat use to better un- derstand what types of forest cover individuals use in the Maine woods. We are using a method called a lily pad trap to catch unsuspecting grouse as they travel along the forest floor. This trap consists of two trap bodies each similar to a lobster trap attached to a 50 long by 18 high line of chicken wire. Traps are checked twice daily morning and evening and captured birds are fitted with a radio collar and an aluminum leg band. Spruce and Ruffed Grouse Research Kelsey Sullivan Wildlife Biologist Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Dr. Erik J. Blomberg Assistant Professor of Wildlife Ecology University of Maine Joel Tebbenkamp Graduate Student in the Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Conservation Biology University of Maine Hen spruce grouse photo by Erik Blomberg continued on page 35