mypubliclands: Counting Sage-Grouse at Dawn Story and Photos by…


Counting Sage-Grouse at Dawn

Story and Photos by Greg Shine, BLM.

Each spring, remote areas in Oregon’s sagebrush steppe attract scores of Greater Sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) for elaborate mating rituals. These areas – called leks – provide Bureau of Land Management (BLM) wildlife biologists a golden opportunity for census taking, as they host the largest annual gathering of male and female sage-grouse.

Since the males are in full display – strutting their uniquely shaped pin-like tail feathers, inflating and deflating distinctive golden throat sacs, and cooing and clucking a range of sounds – they standout in the landscape and are more easily identified and counted.

This counting is critical. The BLM and its partners are taking steps to protect the Greater Sage-grouse and more than 350 other species that rely upon the sagebrush landscape for their survival, and these annual censuses, called lek counts, provide vital information about Sage-grouse
population health.

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Tags: fun fact: I have visited a sage grouse lek, in the bitterly cold pre-dawn, and then watched and listened to the males display, it looked just like this.

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