Skip to main content

Sage Grouse Sunrise

Harry Fuller, KBO Board Member

Up at 4AM. On the road before 5AM. Parked on a dirt road in sagebrush country before 6AM. It’s 34 outside, fingers turn numb because the windows have to be open to shoot pics. Four male Sage Grouse are on the lek. The huffing, puffing, dancing and bellow notes of the annual lek performance are underway by the time we can see them. The males pull their head down into their inflated white feather ruffs and then re-extend their necks. At the same time they are inflating and deflating their twin air sacs, which are blanketed by thick white feathers.

At 7:06 AM at an unseen signal all four males fly away. Their performance is done. Our day is well underway. The next hours of birds and photos will be a bonus. Our Klamath Bird Observatory photo trip to Malheur is a success before we’ve even had breakfast.

(Harry Fuller shares an experience from a recent KBO conservation bird-watching outing to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon. To learn more about upcoming KBO field trips, visit the KBO Website and look under Trips and Events at the bottom left.)