Adding the middle ground seems to give the piece more weight, helping with depth. At this stage, I was finding the bottom a bit distracting but tried to ignore that as grasses will cover a lot of it.
The spruce grouse has been painted. I've lightened it so it does not appear as a big dark blob and disrupt the flow and focus of the painting. The grouse is still in the normal range of feather colors but does not instantly draw one's focus. You see the mountain lion's movement and then wonder what he is going after before you see the grouse.
When I first started painting the mountain lion its colors didn't seem rich enough. I wanted its warmth to contrast with the coolness of the vegetation. Grabbing some richer yellows, reds, cadmium orange, and burnt sienna is helping with bringing out a more vibrant coat.