Total ABA Species Recorded During 2010 - 731

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sharp-tailed Grouse

Made coffee in the room before heading out to the 20-mile Road Sharp-tailed Grouse lek.  Recall that we had scouted this area yesterday and felt certain we would nail the grouse as soon as we could see anything.  As it got lighter and lighter and we didn't see any movement, we began to think we were not in the right place.  So we moved down the road a bit and tried again, also without luck.  Eventually we turned around and headed back north to the original location.  When we got close, we could see a truck parked beside the road with a guy looking through a scope out the driver's window.  We pulled off the road and I went over and tapped on the passenger window which he buzzed down.  I asked if he was looking at grouse and he said he was doing his morning survey for the state wildlife department.  I asked if he could point them out and he did.  They were indeed there, just not in the direction we had been looking.  I thanked him and we enjoyed the grouse for a bit (web photo).  They were doing their dance which it is said is the model for many of the dances performed by native Americans.
We drove over to the 80-Road lek to see if any Greater Sage Grouse were still doing their thing.  You may remember that this was the road that yesterday we deemed too messy to try.  Today the temperature was 24F.  So instead of walking in, we decided with everything frozen we would drive in.  Our rental car has all-wheel drive so it wasn't that risky a decision.  We got down the hill and to the area we think is nearest to the grouse lek, but there were no grouse booming.  I turned the car around on the icy snow with John watching to make sure I didn't go off the edge.  We made it all the way back including the steep snowy hill at the very end.  We'll do this all over again the dark.
At our late breakfast I called Jim Haskins of the Colorado Game Department.  His wife answered the phone and gave me the phone number of Steve Zee who it turns out is the fellow we met on the 20-Road this morning.  I called him and asked him about any other Greater Sage Grouse leks in the area and he said that the one on 80-Road was really the only one nearby.  So that confirmed our decision to try it again tomorrow.
We spent the rest of the day in the area north of Steamboat Springs, the massivie ski resort on US40 east of Hayden.  We saw more of the same birds we've seen over the past few days at the higher altitudes, but nothing new.  We're back in Craig again for another night, but tomorrow we'll move on east after our early morning grouse encounter.  The Sharp-tailed Grouse brought the year list total to 448.


  1. Sounds COLD! But it would be so cool to see those guys performing! If you get a chance, check out my blog on . . . it's my birding adventure in TX. I write something there every now and then, but this time it's about birds, not yoga! Cheers, Renee

  2. I don't know. You - in a car - on ice - in the dark. Doesn't sound like the best recipe to me, knowing you and your track record. I guess at least it's not mud on the side of the road or tall grass down the middle of the road.......