Greater Sage Grouse
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Greater sage grouse have a wide range that extends across much of northwestern North America. They are associated with sagebrush habitats, hence their name. Sagebrush is essential to the life of the greater sage grouse; it provides the creature an area for nesting, feeding, child rearing and wintering, among other essential activities. Wetlands and meadows are also important to the rearing of offspring.
Sage grouse prefer to keep a low profile and tend to remain largely inconspicuous within the sagebrush habitat. During mating season, males parade themselves on leks, which are patches of bare ground. Females gather to watch the display and choose their mate based on how impressive its ritualized mating dance appeared. The majority of males are not chosen during these displays; females tend to pick only one or two out of the group. Females raise offspring by themselves.
Greater sage grouse have an average life expectancy of 1-3 years, though they can potentially live up to 7 years.
Sage grouse are omnivorous, though their diet is primarily constituted of sagebrush. They will also eat leaves, buds and flowers of plants that are associated with sagebrush. Insects are a part of their diet as well, especially in the summer months.
The total population is estimated between 200,000 and 400,000.
Greater sage grouse have a very involved and unique mating ritual. They are the largest grouse in North America. Females and males are sexually dimorphic, with each gender looking significantly different than the other.
Why are They Endangered?
Sage grouse have poor eyesight and are often killed by running into fences, turbines and other obstacles that are difficult to see. Habitat fragmentation is particularly detrimental to populations of greater sage grouse. Fire and invasive plants are also exhibiting a negative impact towards the remaining population.