THE MALE HAS A PAIR OF INFLATABLE, YELLOW AIR SACS THAT MAKE A VERY UNIQUE SOUND.
A large turkey-like bird that changes dramatically when putting on a spectacular display, puffing out his chest and fanning his tail into a starburst!
MEET THE GREATER SAGE GROUSE
The greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus), also known as the sagehen, is a mottle gray-brown bird with a black belly. Males have a black head and throat as well as a white ruff that, during displays surround a pair of inflatable, yellow air sacs that make a sound when thrust forward, producing unique liquid popping noises.
The female of the species has a dusky colored cheek patch emphasized by white markings behind her eye.
The historical range for this species was 16 U.S. states along with the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Briitish Columbia, and Saskatchewan. However, since 1988 the Canadian population has declined by 98%.
In 2013 the Canadian Governor in Council placed an emergency protection order in place to hopefully save the species. Also in 2013, the Greater sage grouse has disappeared from five U.S. states.
During winter and fall the diet of the Greater sage-grouse is almost entirely the leaves and fresh shoots of the sagebrush it depends on. During the rest of the year, it also eats leaves, flowers, and buds from a wide variety of plants. It will occasionally dine on some insects during summer.
Every spring, male Great sage-grouse congregate in leks to perform a “strutting display where they puff out two yellowish sacs on the neck and fan out their tales. Females watch from a distance and then select the most attractive males with which to mate.
A week to ten days after choosing her mate the hen builds a nest near a lek. Lay anywhere from six to eight eggs which she incubates for up to 25 – 27 days. Hatchlings can fly by the time they around 2 weeks old, though they are not fully independent until they are 10 to 12 weeks old.
Due to overhunting, habitat loss, and predation, the Greater sage-grouse is under extreme threat of extinction.