The greater sage-grouse, also known as the sagehen, is a type of bird with a unique appearance. It has a mottled gray-brown color and a black belly. Male sage-grouse have a black head and throat, and they also have a white ruff around their necks that highlight their pair of inflatable yellow air sacs. These air sacs produce distinct popping noises when males thrust them forward during displays.
Female birds have a distinctive cheek patch that is dark in color and can be easily recognized by the white markings located behind their eyes.
At one point in time, this particular type of animal could be found wandering across 16 different states throughout the United States as well as various parts of Canada, including Alberta, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan. However, unfortunately, the population of this species in Canada has taken a massive hit over the years, decreasing by an astonishing 98% since 1988. As a result, the Canadian Governor in Council issued an emergency protection order in 2013 to put a stop to any further dwindling. Simultaneously, the Greater sage grouse completely disappeared from five U.S. states that same year.
During fall and winter, Greater sage-grouse rely heavily on sagebrush leaves and shoots as their main source of sustenance. However, they have a varied diet throughout other seasons, consuming a mix of different plants such as buds, flowers, and leaves. In the summer, they even supplement their diet with occasional insect snacks.
As the weather warms up, male Great sage-grouse come together in leks to perform their special dance routine known as the “strutting display”. This mesmerizing performance involves the males inflating two yellowish sacs on their necks and splaying out their tails. The female birds watch this dazzling sight from afar and then select the most attractive males to mate with.
Approximately one week after choosing a mate, the female bird builds a nest in proximity to a breeding area. She usually lays six to eight eggs and spends roughly 25 to 27 days keeping them warm. The young birds take flight after two weeks but continue to depend on their parents for care until they are 10 to 12 weeks old.
The Greater sage-grouse is in a critical situation where it is at risk of becoming extinct. This is due to a combination of factors such as overhunting, habitat loss, and predation.
Behold the magnificent spectacle of the Greater sage-grouse presented before your eyes: