Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sharp-tailed Grouse

Once found across much of central and northern North America, Sharp-tailed Grouse were formerly more common in northern Minnesota and across South Dakota. They prefer grasslands and mixed-shrub habitats, and now depend also on croplands. Despite their decline, these grouse are still hunted. This decline continues despite some stabilization from grasslands planted through the Conservation Reserve Program.

Like many grouse, the Sharp-tailed dances at leks, where a few males dance and father most of the upcoming generation. The males, however, take no part in further parenting duties. The dances are spectacular and were the inspiration for many Native American pow-wow dances (Connelly et al. 1998). This photo was taken several years ago in western South Dakota.

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