This devoted grouse has started following an Ontario man everywhere

Man and grouse [Credit: R. Swanson]

Brian Swanson wasn’t looking for friendship when he went to open up his cottage earlier this year, but he soon found himself with an unusual companion: a wild ruffed grouse that took to following him around his property.

Swanson, who lives in Red Rock township in Ontario, first noticed the bird in March. Whenever he came to the cottage, he’d see the grouse coming into the yard to hang out.

“We’d go out on the weekends and once we would show up, he would show up … in the yard again,” Swanson told the CBC.

Brian Swanson and his grouse buddy at camp

The ruffed grouse is not a bird known to be especially friendly with people. In fact, they tend to turn and run or fly at the first sight of Homo Sapiens. But don't tell that to Brian Swanson, of Red Rock, Ont. A grouse he has named "din-din" has bonded with him at his camp at Kama Point, on Lake Superior, and has become something of a wing man. Outdoor columnist Gord Ellis has all the details on the odd couple at 8:15, on Superior Morning. Stream at cbc.ca/thunderbay. Here is a video of the two buddies during a recent morning coffee break.

Posted by CBC Thunder Bay on Thursday, May 3, 2018

The grouse, a male Swanson has named ‘Din-Din’, is happy to tail Swanson wherever he goes on the property, though he seems reluctant to follow his human friend further afield.

“I went for a walk to the neighbours’ yesterday and he walked halfway and then met me on the way back. It’s almost like there is a border there he just stays in.”

Swanson doesn’t know why the bird has taken such a liking to him. Usually, grouse keep their distance from humans — which might lead you to think that this “friendship” is really just opportunism, and that Din-Din is just looking for food or other favours. But that’s not the case, according to Swanson. In fact, Din-Din has never taken food from him.

“People say ‘did you feed him?’ and I didn’t give him anything,” he said. “This weekend I tried to give him some bread but he wouldn’t eat it.”

The bird also hasn’t let him pet it, preferring to remain a walking companion.

Male grouse are known for thumping on their chests to attract a mate in the spring, a sound Swanson has grown accustomed to. “I can hear him thumping in the bush in the morning, so I guess he is looking for me.”

And while Din-Din remains devoted to his bff, he has also made other friends, and even facilitated some social gatherings.

“The neighbours fell in love with him,” Swanson said. “They all come over and visit.”

It just goes to show — sometimes the best friends are the ones you don’t choose.

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