Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Nature's Spectacles: Spring Sage Grouse Displays

The snow has barely begun to melt in most places, but in the sagebrush country across Idaho, the sage grouse are returning to their annual display grounds. Each spring, male grouse puff up, strut and pop air sacs on these display grounds, called leks. It's one of the most memorable natural spectacles in Idaho.

Sage grouse are in decline throughout their range. The Nature Conservancy is working in Idaho to protect some of the most important sage grouse habitat left. The Crooked Creek Project, located northwest of Dubois, is a model for sage grouse management on working lands. The Conservancy is working with partners, like the North American Grouse Partnership, to protect and improve wildlife habitat.

Some of the best remaining sagebrush habitat, for grouse and other wildlife, is in the Owyhees in southwestern Idaho. Here, The Nature Conservancy is part of the Owyhee Initiative, a cooperative effort to protect sagebrush habitat and the ranching culture of the Owyhees.

Thanks to dedicated Nature Conservancy supporter and bird photographer Bob Griffith for use of these photos, all taken on Crooked Creek Ranch.

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