Greater Sage-Grouse

1/100s at f8.0, ISO:1000, Canon Mark III 1Ds w/800mm, 1.4x converter


The Sage Grouse is the largest grouse in North America, where it is known as the Greater Sage-Grouse. Its range is sagebrush country in the western United States and southern Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada. A population of smaller birds, known in the U.S. as Gunnison Sage-Grouse, were recently recognized as a separate species. This species is a permanent resident. Some move short distances to lower elevations for winter. These birds forage on the ground. They mainly eat sagebrush, also insects and other plants. Sage Grouse do not have a muscular crop and are not able to digest hard seeds like other grouse. They nest on the ground under sagebrush or grass patches. Sage Grouse are notable for their elaborate courtship rituals. Each spring males congregate in leks and perform a "strutting display". Groups of females observe these displays and select the most attractive males to mate with. The dominate male located in the center of the lek typically copulates with around 80% of the females on the lek. Males perform in leks for several hours in the early morning and evening during the spring months. Lek generally occur in open areas adjacent to dense sagebrush stands, and the same lekking ground may be used by grouse for decades.
Walden, CO
 
04/14/2011