Drive By Shootings Don’t Always End In Disaster!

Drive By Shootings Don't Always End In Disaster!

As a photographer, drive by shootings don’t always end in disaster. In fact… you can get some of your best shots with a drive-by shooting.

Birds don’t see a vehicle as a threat, so usually if you stop and turn off the engine, they will just keep going about their business as usual. Which makes cars a great blind to shoot from.

It’s when you poke your finger, elbow, head or any other part of your body out of the car that birds take to the wing and disappear.

Today was one of those days where I hadn’t taken a photo yet after going to a couple of spots where I thought I might get some good shots.

Driving home on one of the backroads, I spotted something by the side of the road, that didn’t look like litter or a stump. Not only that but I think I saw it move.

I slowed down and as I drove by it I realized that it was a bird that I’ve never taken a picture of before, let alone see out in the open. I usually only catch a glimpse of it moving quickly through the underbrush or out of the corner of my eye as they make a dash across the road.

Quickly I turned around and came back and there it was. A Ruffed Grouse!

ruffed grouse stalking up and down the verge
Ruffed grouse stalking up and down the verge

It kept walking along the side of the road and even coming onto the road in spots. The section of road it was on had a curve just before it and just after and the cars that were coming along it were going fast.

I was pulled over as far as I could get but I couldn’t get all the way off the road and cars had to go around me. The things we do for a good shot.

Keeping my fingers crossed that the occasional car going by would see me and the grouse, I watched as it kept looking back into the woods and clucking like a hen.

ruffed grouse looking intently into brush
Ruffed grouse looking intently into the brush

It was then I realized that there were some little bundles of fluff in the forest behind it. Baby grouse! It doesn’t get any better than that.

ruffed grouse chickRuffed grouse chick

The mother was trying to get the babies to cross the road as at one point it flew across the road and was cooing and clucking. The chicks were running parallel to the mom, but stayed in the forest.

Ruffed grouse cooing to her chicks
Ruffed grouse cooing to her chicks

The ruffed grouse heads into the woods to join her chicksThe ruffed grouse heads into the woods to join her chicks

Finally, the grouse went back across the road and headed up behind the chicks onto a rocky moss-covered hill. As it called to the chicks they all started to head towards her and I counted 5 in all.

female ruffed grouse and chick
Female ruffed grouse and chick

I could still hear her long after she passed from view, and I’m so glad she chose not to cross the road. Disaster averted.


  1. Great capture! I’m not a bird aficionado, but I did like the ‘camo’ pattern of the feathers! Reminds me of when I first saw a Road Runner in Arizona, I chased it across the desert in my Jeep trying to get a photo. They really DO run fast!


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