Counting Sage Grouse
Counting Sage Grouse on the Lek
Every year in early spring, Greater Sage Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) males congregate on leks, or special breeding grounds, where they perform their well-known dancing ritual in an attempt to attract females. Most leks are well-established, meaning that the birds come back to the same place year after year, which makes the lek an ideal place for monitoring population numbers. Blue Valley Ranch has two active leks, which ranch employees help to monitor in coordination with Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
The conservation status of Greater Sage Grouse was changed in 2010 to “warranted, but precluded” for protection under the Endangered Species Act by the Fish & Wildlife Service, with a final decision on listing scheduled for 2015. As their name implies, sage grouse depend on sagebrush for much of their annual life cycle, and providing good sagebrush habitat is a key component in the ranch’s habitat management plan.
(Photos by Josh Richert)