Grouse, Greater Sage
The Greater Sage Grouse is the largest grouse species in North America and it is classified as an endangered species. It is brownish-gray in color with a white patterning, a long, spiky, pointed tail and a black belly. The male has a white breast and outstanding yellow eyebrows. They have a body length of 56-75cm/22-29.5in and their weight ranges between of 1.4kg-2.9kg/49.4-102.3kg.
Greater Sage Grouse inhabit the shrub-steppe and meadow-steppe habitats preferably in areas with low, rolling hills adjacent to valleys and also in foothills, plains, and mountain slopes where sagebrush is present. They prefer medium-density sagebrush mixed with a variety of other plants. They occur in western United States and southern Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada.
The Greater Sage-Grouse forages on the ground all year round with their winter staple being sagebrush leaves. They also feed on flowers and buds from a variety of plants at other times including some insects in summer. Unlike other grouse, they do not eat many hard seeds.
The young Greater Sage Grouse are the best for eating since they are more tender than older birds. The meat tastes good to some while others think that it has a strong sagebrush taste.
During the breeding season when the Greater Sage Grouse males are courting, they display by fanning out their tail feathers, parading around like turkeys and makes a booming sound similar to: “BA-LOOMP...BA-LOOMP.” A group of males do their courtship display together, which is characterized by puffing out the air sacs in their chest and spreading their tails. Females choose a male from the lek, mate with him and then the male rejoins the lek while the female leaves the lek for the nesting site. She makes a nest which is a shallow depression lined with a bit of plant material, made on the ground under sagebrush or a clump of grass. The female lays 7 to 9 eggs and incubates them for 3 weeks. Shortly after hatching, the young leave the nest to fend for themselves though the female tends to them. When The Greater Sage Grouse is flushed it makes a “cuk-cuk-cuk” call.
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