An Unexpected Walk With Wildlife

By: Justin Levine – Adirondack Council Communications and Outreach Assistant
Thursday, April 7, 2022

Since the days are longer and the weather warmer, I’ve been able to get back into one of my favorite hobbies: taking my kids for a walk before bed. We live on a quiet country road in the northern Adirondacks, and only infrequently see cars on our walks. But we often get to see lots of birds, rabbits, deer, and squirrels. But the other night, the kids and I had one of, if not the, most unique wildlife experiences of our lives.

About a quarter-mile from my house, a small stream crosses the road. There are drainage ditches that lead up to the stream, and my kids - Hudson, 4, and Elodie, 2 - LOVE to go to the “waterfall,” which is actually where a drainage ditch drains from under someone else’s driveway. From there, the stream is only about 20 feet away.

An Unexpected Guest

We made our regular walk to the waterfall and headed to the stream. Hudson began asking why there was so much more water in the stream than at the waterfall. I explained that the small wetland across the street held a lot of water but that the plants and grass hid it. We went over to look at the wetland, and while there wasn’t a lot of water to see, we did notice two large clumps of what looked like fresh barred owl feathers. I looked around and didn’t see a carcass, but the feathers looked out of place.

The kids and I turned around and went back to the stroller, which was parked near the guardrail above the stream. As we walked the 15 feet across the street, I noticed some movement near the stroller and saw that it was a ruffed grouse. I was surprised that it was so close to us, but as we took a couple more steps, the grouse jumped over the guardrail and into the brush.

Uploaded Image: /vs-uploads/wildlife/ruffed1.1.jpg

We watched it for a minute, and I thought, “That was cool,” but then I turned my back to put the kids back in the stroller so we could go home. I put the kids in, and when I turned back around, the grouse was standing just on the other side of the guardrail looking at us. We started to laugh, and it hopped up on the rail and then into the sand only about a foot from the stroller. The kids and I were kind of shocked, but the grouse was definitely interested in us, and since this was a pretty unique experience, I let the kids enjoy a few moments with this wild animal.

ruffed grouse

A New Found Friend

We then began walking home, and in short order, I felt a nip at my heel. I turned around, and the grouse was following us up the road. I thought it was funny and turned the stroller around so that we were walking backward with the kids facing the grouse. It kept following us - first for 100 feet, then 100 yards.

ruffed grouse

Our road is very quiet, so I could hear the car coming for a while. I pushed the stroller off the road and hoped like hell that the grouse wouldn’t get hit by the car in front of my very young and impressionable kids. To my surprise, the grouse followed the stroller off to the side of the road, and as I stood there laughing, I looked at the driver, who could clearly see the kids and the grouse, and she had a huge smile on her face

An Honorary Member of the Family?

We started walking up the road, and again, the grouse continued to follow us. At this point, the kids were convinced it was now part of our family and was coming home with us. They weren’t entirely wrong.

ruffed grouse
Two hundred yards from the stream, the grouse was still following us up the road. We reached our yard, where our flock of chickens was getting some last bites of food before heading into the coop for the night. The grouse was still with us, and rather than risk having it literally follow us inside the house, I turned around and walked towards the bird. It hesitantly skittered into the woods, and as soon as it blended in with the trees, Elodie started to cry because she wanted the bird to sleep in her bed. I’m a pretty lenient parent, but having a wild bird in my toddler’s bed was a bridge too far. And I doubt our cats would have been pleased with the situation either. So we walked away, still being able to hear the grouse scratch at the ground but not being able to see it.

Unforgettable Interaction With Wildlife

It’s rather common for grouse to become territorial around their nests in the spring, but this seems like a pretty unique experience. While I doubt this particular grouse will live in our yard, my kids had an unforgettable interaction that will hopefully stay with them. After all, we live in the Adirondacks specifically because of the opportunities to enjoy nature. Having a once-in-a-lifetime experience while out on a routine evening walk makes the woods and wildlife of the Adirondack Park all the more magical, for the kids and for me.


Justin Levine

Justin Levine joined the Council staff in 2021 as the Communications and Outreach Assistant. He previously worked as a regional marketing manager for the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism and was an award-winning journalist and photographer for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and Lake Placid News. Since graduating from Paul Smith’s College in 2004, Justin has worked in the environmental field in various roles in both the Adirondacks and Florida. When not working, Justin loves spending time with his family, running, and doing all the outdoor things the Park has to offer.

« Back to Blog

19-20 Accomplishments

20-21 Accomplishments

Achieved with partners, grassroots advocacy,
and YOUR support! 

Sustain Your Support

Become a Monthly Giver

Sustain our daily advocacy work
for the Adirondacks!

Uploaded Image: /vs-uploads/module---homepage/RM_7.30.20.jpg

Sign the Petition

Protect the Adirondacks from the threat
of global climate change!

Your donation goes directly to help fund initiatives within the Adirondack Park.   DONATE NOW