Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Greater Sage-Grouse

I enjoyed a short, but glorious, career as an ecotour guide. Unfortunately I never figured out how to charge enough money to come home with any cash in my pocket. On one trip my clients and I enjoyed a charmed tour of South Dakota's Black Hills. One of our target birds was North America's largest grouse, the Greater Sage-Grouse.

I assured my clients that seeing sage-grouse required knowing the precise location of leks and having the grouse as your only goal. Leks are sites where males perform a strutting display to impress females. Often only a few of the best dancers will breed with most of the females. Males take no further part in raising the young (Schroeder et al. 1999).

Not an hour later, as we drove north through Wyoming grasslands, I was asked, "What were THOSE birds?" Along the roadside grazed over a dozen sage-grouse. This grouse favors sagebrush prairies of western North America. I once picked up sage-grouse guano and found that the guano smells like sage. Because of loss of habitat due to cultivation, burning, overgrazing and eradication of sagebush, sage-grouse populations have drastically declined.

Because of differences in size, behavior, genetics, and plumage, the Gunnison Sage-Grouse is now considered to be a distinct species. Unlike the relatively wide-ranging Greater Sage-Grouse, the Gunnison grouse is only found in restricted areas of Colorado and Utah.

2 comments:

  1. Great story and a neat looking bird!

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  2. I like your post because you present the informative facts of Greater sage-grouse birds. I also like Greater sage-grouse birds image.

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