Just before sunrise on a crisp, spring morning – barely warm enough to keep the dew from freezing – there is movement in the knee-high grasses. As if a curtain opens on stage, dozens of Sharp-tailed Grouse begin their ancient choreography while light trickles across the upland prairie.
Male dancers are intent on finding their mate and use their stiff-wing, foot-stomping, tail-shaking moves to draw attention from females in the audience. As they spin and charge around the lek where they gather each year, the spectacle becomes a symphony and swirl of color – the purple of air sacs and bright yellow eye combs charming their onlookers, both feathered and human. See and hear it for yourself in the new video below.
Photo: Dennis Lingohr/American Prairie