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    About the Greater Sage Grouse

    • A grouse is a large, ground feeding bird defined by a plump body, small head, and feathered legs. They are closely related to the chicken.

     

    • The Greater Sage Grouse is the largest grouse in North America. 

     

    Male Greater Sage Grouse

    Photo Credit: Jeannie Stafford/USFWS

     

    • Greater Sage Grouse inhabit the iconic sagebrush steppe of Western North America and are found in parts of California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. Greater Sage Grouse can only survive in sagebrush steppe habitat, as they rely on it for food, cover, and nesting. 

     

    • From March to May, Greater Sage Grouse congregate in open areas among the sagebrush called leks. Starting at dawn and continuing for several hours, male Greater Sage Grouse put on one of the most unique and intricate courtship displays in the wildlife world. They start by taking a big gulp of air, then proceed to puff their chests in and out, fan their tail feathers, and sweep their wings - all while make a variety of swishing and popping sounds. These events - called leks - are considered to be... and are watched by thousands of birders each year. 

     

    Dance of the Sage Grouse

    Video Credit: Idaho Fish & Game

     

    • Male Greater Sage Grouse perform in leks to attract breeding females. But only a few of the males will be selected by the females for breeding. The females will only end up selecting a few of the males. 

     

    • After selecting a mate the female Greater Sage Grouse becomes a dedicated mother - she builds the nest, incubates the eggs, and raises her chicks - on her own, with no help from the father.  Only about half of the chicks will survive their first winter. 

     

    Greater Sage Grouse Hen with Chicks

    Photo Credit: Tom Koerner/USFWS

     

    • In the wild Greater Sage Grouse can live up to 8 years 

    Greater Sage Grouse Status Today

    • Greater Sage Grouse populations have dropped dramatically since the settlement of the North American West. Pre-Settlement population totals 100 years ago may have been as high as 16,000,000. Today the population stands at 200,000 or less.

     

    • Greater Sage Grouse are no longer found in Kansas, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico, and British Columbia. 

     

    Greater Sage Grouse Hen eating Sagebrush 

    Photo Credit: Tom Koerner/USFWS

     

    • The North American Bird Survey found that Greater Sage Grouse population decreased by 83% between 1966 and 2015 - an average of 3.5% per year. 

     

    Sagebrush Steppe

    Photo Credit: Tom Koerner/USFWS

     

    • The decline in Greater Sage Grouse population is attributed to habitat fragmentation. Greater Sage Grouse require very large (+75,000 acres) sections of unbroken sagebrush habitat - even small disturbances have been shown to decrease the population. 

     

    Male Greater Sage Grouse at Lek

    Photo Credit: Bob Wick/BLM

     

    Aim of the Respect the Grouse Collection

    To help in the fight to sustain this species, Kirtlandii will be donating $2 per Respect the Grouse Collection item sold on kirtlandii.com.

    The $2 per Collection item sold will be split between two non-profit organizations on the forefront of the Sage Grouse conservation mission. $1 will go to the American Bird Conservancy, a non-profit organization committed to conserving the birds of America. And $1 will go to Pheasants Forever, a non-profit organization that is the fiscal agent of the Sage Grouse Initiative. 

    The Sage Grouse Initiative is a partnership-based, science-driven effort that uses voluntary incentives to proactively conserve America’s western rangelands, wildlife, and rural way of life. 

    The Sage Grouse Initiative helps to conserve the Greater Sage Grouse by combating threats to the sagebrush ecosystem - such as:

    • Invasive grasses that cause unwanted wild fies
      • The Sage Grouse Initiative has reduced the invasive grass/wildfire threat on 2.7 million acres
    • Conifer expansion that covers the open areas (leks) Greater Sage Grouse require for breeding
      • The Sage Grouse Initiative has removed 617,000 acres of conifer 
    • Residential Development, which leads to habitat fragmentation
      • The Sage Grouse Initiative has protected 674,000 acres of prime habitat for 350+ sagebrush dependent species 
    • Grazing Land Cultivation, which replaces sagebrush into cultivated crops
      • The Sage Grouse Initiative has worked with ranchers to improve grazing systems on 4.4 million acres 
    • Wet Meadow Loss, Greater Sage Grouse rely on wet meadows to provide food and cover for their young
      • The Sage Grouse Initiative has conserved 23,000 acres of prime wet habitat 

     

     Sage Grouse Hen in Wet Habitat 

    Photo Credit: Tom Koerner/USFWS

     

    • Fence Collisions: Greater Sage Grouse fly low and can get tangled in livestock fencing 
      • The Sage Grouse Initiative has worked with partners to mark or move 885 miles of fencing, which has reduced collisions by 83%.  

     

    Dead Greater Sage Grouse after wire strike

    Photo Credit: Tom Koerner

     

    Respect the Grouse Collection

     

     

     

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    Read More about the Greater Sage Grouse 

    Hannah Nordhaus, National Geographic: An awkward bird symbolizes the fight over America's West

    Gustave Axelson, The New York Times: Birders and Naturalists Ponder the Fate of the Greater Sage Grouse

    Gustave Axelson, Marc Dantzker, and Gerrit VynLiving Bird Magazine: Last Grouse Standing: Can Birds and Industry Coexist in the Western Sage Lands?