18”x 24” Oil on board “The Beat of His Own Drum” Original grouse painting by Ryan Kirby
I’ve often ran into grouse while turkey hunting in the mountains of Western North Carolina. They’re a fascinating bird, and those rugged individuals that hunt them are a rare breed in and of themselves. Ruffed Grouse are lively and invigorating to watch; a symbol of energy. The male grouse attempts to attract a mate by rotating his wings back and forth, or “drumming,” atop a low log, stump, or rock. The deep, thumping sound starts slowly and builds to a blurred crescendo as the bird rapidly beats his wings. In a single 8–10 second drumming sequence, his wings may beat up to 50 times. Like any male lost in the act of trying to impress a mate, he’s marching to the beat of his own drum. This piece is my attempt to capture such a unique ritual by stopping his wings mid-beat, lit up by the warmth of a mountain sunrise.