NEWS

Spring is a good time to view sage grouse

March and April are the best months to spy sage grouse on their leks in Wyoming. 

3/13/2017 2:51:46 PM

Cheyenne - Though it hardly seems like spring, the Wyoming version is underway. But, don’t let the cold and windy weather keep you indoors; March and April are the best months to spy sage grouse on their leks in Wyoming.

The greater sage grouse is the largest species of grouse in North America. Each spring, male sage grouse perform an elaborate sunrise display on communal breeding grounds known as “leks.” While sage grouse require sagebrush landscapes to survive, leks are often located in open areas where the males can be better seen and heard by females.

“The dramatic display makes viewing sage grouse a popular recreational activity in March and April across much of Wyoming,” said Tom Christiansen, sage grouse program coordinator for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

To guide your lek outings, the Game and Fish launched the Sage Grouse Lek Viewing Guide to take you to the the best publicly accessible viewing locations across Wyoming. The guide, located on the Game and Fish website, provides directions to each lek location. Users also have the option of downloading a geoPDF map.

There are courtesies to follow while witnessing the sage grouse’s early morning rituals.

“When visiting the leks, it’s important to remain unobtrusive,” said Christiansen.

Game and Fish urges individuals when viewing to:
 

  • Arrive at lek sites at least one hour before sunrise.
  • Park away from the edge of the lek. Do not drive onto the lek.
  • Turn off the vehicle lights and engine.
  • Use binoculars and spotting scopes to observe birds.
  • Stay in your vehicle.
  • Avoid making loud noises or sudden movements.
  • Let the bird leave before you do.
  • Leave pets at home.
  • Respect private land and do not trespass.
  • Postpone your visit if roads are muddy.
Christiansen also advises to be especially cautious with viewing activities during late March and early April when breeding activity usually peaks. “Late April is good time to visit because most of the breeding is complete, but the males are still actively strutting. The weather is usually better, too.”

In addition to lek viewing, sage grouse enthusiasts can also take in the exhibit, Thunder Feathers: Greater Sage-grouse Strut the Plains. The show opens at the Lander Art Center in Lander from March 17-May 13, 2017 featuring 3-D, fiber, oil paint, photography, film, and bioacoustics installations by Wyoming artists covering aspects of the sage grouse life-cycle, ecosystem and conservation efforts. Scheduled stops include University of Wyoming Berry Biodiversity Conservation Center in Laramie for June and July 2017, and The Science Zone in Casper September through November. More information for this show is available at: https://www.facebook.com/LanderArtsandSciences/.

(Wyoming Game and Fish (307) 777-4600)

- WGFD -


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