Pennsylvania State Bird

The Ruffed Grouse is the Pennsylvania State Bird

The ruffed grouse is the official state bird of Pennsylvania. It is a medium-sized species that features gray and brown coloration. Unlike most bird species, the male and female ruffed grouse look very similar. It is difficult to tell them apart, even for experts. The ruffed grouse is common and widespread in the Northeastern and Mid-Western parts of the United States.

The ruffed grouse is widespread partially because it can eat almost anything. Ruffed grouses are omnivores, and will eat anything from grass to small snakes. Due to the ruffed grouse's striking coloration, elusive nature, and widespread range, it is a very popular game bird. It has been hunted in Pennsylvania since the beginning of recorded history and probably earlier.

It Was Selected In 1931

The ruffed grouse was selected as the state bird by the Pennsylvania legislature in 1931. At this time, many states were designating their state symbols, especially birds. Women's clubs played a large part in this movement across the country, and Pennsylvania was no different. The Pennsylvania Federation of Women's Clubs spearheaded the effort to choose the ruffed grouse as the state bird. The leader of the effort was a Mrs. Henry J. Shoemaker. Pennsylvania also designated the state tree (the Eastern Hemlock) with the same piece of legislation.

The Ruffed Grouse is Important to Pennsylvania History

The ruffed grouse, unlike many other state birds, was not chosen for its beautiful song or striking colors. Instead, it was chosen due to its important role in the history of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania was first settled by Europeans in the 17th century. These colonists faced great difficulty in securing adequate food supplies before they could set up farms. They had to resort to living a hunting and gathering lifestyle. The ruffed grouse, due to its size, abundance, and tasty meat, was a staple food for the early Pennsylvania colonists. Though these times are long past, the bird is still commonly hunted for sport and for meat in the state.

It is Technically the State Game Bird

The ruffed grouse is commonly considered to be simply the state bird of Pennsylvania. However, it is technically the state "game bird." It was given this designation because hunting it is so popular within the state. This leaves the door open for Pennsylvania to designate a different species as the general state bird.

Pennsylvania state bird
Ruffed Grouse
Scientific Name
Bonasa umbellus
Year Became Official

Pennsylvania State Bird