Regional Offices > Pinedale Region > Pinedale Region News > G&F Partners to Study Dirt-Eating Grouse

G&F Partners to Study Dirt-Eating Grouse

January 16, 2019
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Why do sage grouse like to eat dirt?

Pinedale - Several Pinedale Game and Fish biologists joined personnel from the local BLM office, the Teton Raptor Center and Utah State Master's Student, Scott Fox, to capture sage grouse and fit them with GPS transmitters recently. The research is being conducted to learn more about what drives a relatively recent discovery of sage grouse congregating to eat dirt, a behavior scientifically labeled as geophagy. About 30 birds were captured and marked this winter, which brings to total number of marked birds to around 50. Most of the study birds are on the Pinedale Mesa south of Pinedale, with some others being east of highway 191 south of Boulder and others west of the Green River and south of Daniel.

Preliminary information has shown up to 50 or more birds, both male and female, congregating at some locations almost daily. Early soil test results from the sites are somewhat variable, but generally have shown elevated levels of most minerals, including sodium, calcium, potassium and phosphorus. It does stand to reason the birds are seeking out some mineral(s) in the soil. It is possible the birds are looking to supplement their diet in preparation for breeding and egg-laying. Stay tuned for more results on this interesting phenomenon.

- WGFD -

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