Sage-grouse (Photo by Gordon Court)
The greater sage-grouse performs a courtship ritual that at first glance resembles a dance. As the males strut, they inflate and deflate their throat sacs with a popping sound, throwing their heads back, spreading their wings and fanning out their tails.
What does it look like?
This bird’s chicken-like body is brownish-grey on top, and its tail is black and white. Adult males have a white band on a black breast and a collar of pointed white feathers, along with a pointed tail. Though it’s larger on the male, both sexes sport a black belly.
Where are they found?
They are found in western North America in areas where sagebrush grows. Southeastern Alberta, southwestern Saskatchewan and 11 states in the western United States are home to this endangered species. Before disappearing from British Columbia, populations were found in the Okanagan and Similkameen valleys.
What do they eat?
In the summer, sagebrush constitutes more than 60 percent of adult greater sage-grouse’s diet, along with flowers and buds from forbs. In the winter, sagebrush makes up 100 percent of its diet.
What is NCC doing to protect habitat for this species?
In Saskatchewan, NCC staff have volunteered their time to participate in greater sage-grouse surveys led by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment in the southwest portion of the province. In southeast Alberta, NCC is working in areas where, where some silver sagebrush habitat exists — important habitat for this species’ survival.