Definitely grouse. I had the same experience the first couple years we lived here. It does sound just like a one-lung engine starting, I kept wondering what sort of pump or whatever the neighbors must have running that would start and stop randomly. I had to laugh at myself when I finally learned what it was.
Oh no, that would be too easy. :laughing: I think most of the natives here call them partridge.
Whatever you call 'em, I think this winter was a hard one for them. That rain that froze into 3" of ice back in January kept any critter from getting to the ground. I've seen just a few tracks in the snow this spring.
Not as many hare tracks as in the past few years either, but they have been pretty thick the past couple years and they do go in cycles.
The deer are on the move now, I've seen deer tracks around the house the past couple days.