Greater Sage Grouse

Greater Sage Grouse
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The camera is located on a greater sage grouse lek. A lek is a traditional breeding ground for greater sage grouse. Some leks have been the site of the sage grouse’s elaborate springtime courtship display for thousands of years. You are most likely to see the male sage grouse courtship dance. Dozens of males gather as the sun rises on the prairie to display their fancy dancing. Male birds are large, about 5 pounds, and sport a white ruff around their necks in addition to the typical mottled brown, black and white plumage. Males have bright yellow air sacks on their breasts, which they inflate during their mating display, also known as strutting display. During the strut, a male fans his spiky tail, raises his yellow eyecombs, and struts a few steps forward. 

At the same time, he inflates his yellow air sacs that make a loud plop sound that’s most like uncorking a champagne bottle. Females, or hens, are molted brown, black and white. The breeding habitat for the greater sage-grouse is sagebrush country in the wester United States and southern Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada. Sage grouse males mate with more than one female, and females generally mate with one dominate male on a lek. Males play no role in nesting or raising chicks. After mating on the lek, hens fly to a suitable nesting habitat, sometimes miles away. Hens lay 6 to 13 eggs in a ground nest under sagebrush. Chicks are downy at birth and ready to run after their mother.

For more information, visit the Fish and Wildlife Service website, or Facebook page.