Sage Grouse


The Sage Grouse is a large upland bird, that lives, you guessed it, in sagebrush country! In our part of the country, this great bird has been teetering on the line of becoming an endangered species. The population is closely monitored every year people hold their breath waiting to find out the verdict on how the population is doing, and if they are going on the endangered list or not. We are fortunate enough to have been able to find and watch this bird on numerous occasions. During breeding season, the males collect in large groups called leks and put on quite a display to attract the ladies.  In each lek, the females will pick only one male to breed with for that year. The males will strut from March to May, and a female may even go back to the lek to breed with the chosen male a second time in the vent she loses her first clutch of eggs. I don’t really know how to describe the sound the males make during thir strutt other then it reminds me of popping bubbles, but here is a video made by Bob Wick of the BLM that shows their strut:


I personally hadn’t heard of grouse of any sort until after we moved to Idaho and my husband started hunting upland birds. Through hunting, then photography,he became fascinated with grouse, especially the Sage Grouse, and has gotten me interested in a whole new world of birds. I will confess, outside of owls, until we became interested in wildlife photography as a hobby, I wouldn’t have classified myself as a bird person. I considered birds boring and considered mammals much more interesting. But my husband opened my eyes to the wonderful world of birds and I have to say, I am so glad. The diversity of these animals is incredible! And I love living in an area which such a neat diversity of birds from raptors, to water fowl, to upland birds, to smaller song birds. The first time my husband took me out to see Sage Grouse, we got up before the crack of dawn (it was 2 or 3 in the morning) and drove out to the middle of nowhere, where we then waiting in the middle of a field for the sun to come up and the birds to come out and strut. And we watched them for hours! I have only been back out to see them once, but my husband goes to an event called Grouse Days every year to watch the Sage Grouse and take photos of their obscure and beautiful mating display.





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