We first met Rosie at our house in the spring of 2004, and he has been a fixture here ever since. At first, we weren’t sure exactly what kind of a bird it was. I looked in our Birds of North America book and decided it must be a spruce grouse because it didn’t have the “ruff” on top that makes a ruffed grouse ruffed. Then a local biologist informed us that ruffed grouses are the only kind we have here on PEI. We decided ours must be female, because the picture of the female grouse in the bird book didn’t have as prominent a ruff as the male. So, our daughter named her Rosie (and the name has stuck, even though we would eventually determine he was in fact male).
Initially cautious, Rosie soon learned there was nothing to fear from us, and gradually became more and more friendly. Very friendly. Too friendly. Rosie would always come around when I was working outside, and became my constant sidekick, following along behind me as I mowed the lawn. The more noisy and dangerous the work I did, the more likely Rosie was to be hanging about. If a friend came over and wanted to see our famous grouse, all I had to do was break out the chainsaw! Sandy took a great photo of me splitting wood with a maul, with Rosie perched inches away on the woodpile.
As our relationship progressed, though, things started getting out of hand. I remember the first time Rosie “flapped” me; he came racing up behind me and beat his wings against the back of my legs. Talk about getting freaked out!! I couldn’t figure out what the hell was happening! I dropped what I was doing and raced into the house, with Rosie hot on my heels. I got the door closed just in the nick of time. I knew I couldn’t stay in the house forever, so I steeled myself and went back out to see if he had calmed down at all. Nope. But once I got used to it, it wasn’t that bad. I learned to ignore him, and to put up with him attacking the backs of my knees. At first he only did it to me, and this is when the aforementioned biologist figured it must be male, and had “imprinted” himself on me. Ah, true love! Eventually though, Rosie became less selective, and let me tell you, the kids did not like it very much. They would come inside, bawling their eyes out, whimpering “Rosie’s in a flapping mood”. He was around constantly, terrorising us if we were outside, and pecking repeatedly against the glass on our sliding doors if we were inside. Things had gone too far, and something had to be done. One day, I went out and faced off with Rosie, mano a mano, and there was no way I was going to back down. Without hurting him, I made sure he knew I was boss. The result? It insulted Rosie enough to send him back to the woods for good. Here’s the thing, though: after a few days we started to really miss having the little guy around, and started worrying that maybe some ill had befallen him. So we went out looking for him, calling “Rosie! Rosie!” Eventually he emerged, and we would come to an understanding about the terms of our relationship. Rosie still drops by for a visit, and does occasionally get in a “flapping mood” from time to time, but he doesn’t overdo it, and we enjoy having him around. And I must say, as he’s matured he really has developed quite an attractive “ruff” on his head. So if you decide you want to meet this extraordinary bird, please drop in – these days he’s guaranteed to come when called, no chainsaw required.