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Help me identify a bird in the woods of Hoover AL


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I was at Moss Rock Preserve in Hoover AL with my dog last week and heard this bird before I saw it.  It was about the size of a crow but with a heavy body and it's wingbeat made a "thump thump" sound like a helicopter.  It was mostly brown and didn't fly well.  It flew very low to the ground and only for a few feet and then ran some before flying a few feet more. It eventually ran into the hollow of a tree and hid there.  It didn't make any sounds other than the loud beat of it's wings. We were on a trail in the woods along side a creek. I've searched online and the info matches up with a grouse!  But, I keep reading that we don't have grouse this far south in AL.  Any ideas?

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@CRJ, welcome to Whatbird

You may have had a Northern Bobwhite. Click this link and scroll down to 'Calls and Wing Sound'.  The wing sounds are at the -06 second mark.

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Northern_Bobwhite/sounds

They can fly okay, they usually choose not to.  Everything likes to eat quail, including larger, faster birds.  Taking a short, quick flight to a new hiding place is a defensive strategy.

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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15 minutes ago, Charlie Spencer said:

@CRJ, welcome to Whatbird

You may have had a Northern Bobwhite. Click this link and scroll down to 'Calls and Wing Sound'.  The wing sounds are at the -06 second mark.

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Northern_Bobwhite/sounds

They can fly okay, they usually choose not to.  Everything likes to eat quail, including larger, faster birds.  Taking a short, quick flight to a new hiding place is a defensive strategy.

Agreed, Bobwhite is your likely culprit, as Ruffed Grouse don’t quite make it down that far in the Appalachians.  

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13 hours ago, Charlie Spencer said:

How did you determine the sex?

Thanks!

I think it was determined by the descriptor of “mostly brown” and since male and female bobwhite look fairly identical, and under the viewing conditions, unless the OP feels confident in the exact details in theirr memory of the sighting, I don’t think the sex can be accurately identified here. 

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Thanks to everyone for their help!  I listened to the Bobwhite wing beat at the All About Birds link and it sounded more "fluttery" than what I heard.  And it looks smaller in the pics.  But, maybe we just flushed a larger Northern Bobwhite!  I've been back to that spot several times now and haven't seen or heard it again.  I appreciate the help!

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