I find it interesting that Ruffed Grouse have been found for roughly half of the Dallas counts. They certainly aren't easy to find, that is one of the few regular birds I have yet to find in Polk county, let alone the Dallas circle. I wonder where they have been seen in the past? Does anyone who participated in older Dallas CBC counts remember accurately where Ruffed Grouse were seen?
I covered some ground in the mountains for the Dallas CBC, but looking at a map, I estimate 10% of the circle never had anyone step foot in it due to its remoteness. Perhaps that area had more coverage, or was even less gated off in the past, which could explain the recent lack of Ruffed Grouse and Pygmy Owls.
For this Dallas CBC, I hiked up to an area of old growth and called for owls (no luck on Pygmy or Spotted), and as I was hiking out, a couple of locals chatted with me and they called that patch the "Mini Valley of the Giants". That was fun to hear, it is a beautiful patch of huge trees that are part of the Siuslaw National Forest, just not an overly large area. I have had Pygmy Owls there in the past, but not this year.
If anyone would like to do some hiking or even mountain biking for the Dallas CBC next year, we are hoping to explore the area better and cover it better for 2019.