Congratulations to Joshua Lincoln for winning the January 2023 Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist! His image of a Ruffed Grouse taking advantage of a mid-winter food source received the most faves of any iNaturalist observation in Vermont during the past month.
A Ruffed Grouse’s diet is usually quite high in fiber, and in winter they can be found foraging on the buds, twigs, and catkins of trees and shrubs. Thanks to their specially-adapted digestive system, Ruffed Grouse are able to process food sources high in cellulose that many other species avoid, and in turn their scat is easily identifiable when found on the forest floor in winter. Occasionally though, Ruffed Grouse will take advantage of other food sources present in the winter, like the tasty crabapples this individual is seeking out while carefully navigating the thin branches in the treetops to reach for nutritious morsels.
Visit the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist where you can vote for the winner this month by clicking the ‘fave’ star on your favorite photo-observation. Make sure you get outdoors and record the biodiversity around you, then submit your discoveries and you could be a winner!