Sharp-tailed Grouse

1/2500s at f10.0, ISO2000, Canon EOS-1D X w/EF400mm f/4 DO IS USM

The Plains Sharp-tailed Grouse makes its home in the northern Great Plains in southern Alberta and Saskatchewan, eastern Montana, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, and northeastern Wyoming. This race lives in the mixed-grass prairie preferring a mosaic of native grasslands, cropland, and brushy/woody riparian draws, creeks, and rivers. The sharp-tailed grouse is a lekking bird species. These birds display in open areas known as leks with other males, anywhere from a single male to upwards of 20 will occupy one lek (averaging 8 to 12). A lek is defined as an assembly area where animals carry on display and courtship behavior. During the spring, male sharp-tailed grouse attend these leks from March through July with peak attendance in late April, early May. Sharp-tailed grouse are a precocial species, meaning they hatch with their eyes open, are self reliant, and do not require the mother to feed them. Shortly after hatching, the chicks and mother leave the nest site in search of cover and food.
Crescent N.W.R., NE