#getoutside and watch the sage-grouse courtship ritual
#getoutside, a series focusing on our Wyoming outdoor lifestyle, is brought to you by Wind River Outdoor Company in Lander.
(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.
If you are planning on taking a trip to leks around Wyoming, the Game and Fish Department encourages you to follow the American Birding Association’s Principles of Birding Ethics which prevents harm to sage-grouse and their habitats. “Your cooperation is needed to ensure protection and perpetuation of Wyoming’s sage-grouse populations,” noted G&F in a recent press release.
Wyoming Game and Fish Department has developed the following guidelines for those who wish to observe sage grouse courting:
LEK VIEWING ETHICS
- Arrive at lek sites at least one hour before sunrise
- Don’t drive onto the lek. Park away from the edge of the lek.
- Turn off the vehicle lights and engine.
- Use binoculars and spotting scopes to observe birds.
- Stay in your vehicle.
- Do not make loud noises or sudden movements.
- Do not leave until the birds do.
- Keep pets in your vehicle. Better yet, leave them home.
- Do not trespass on private land.
- Postpone your visit if roads are muddy.
- Be especially cautious with viewing activities during late March and early April when breeding activity usually peaks. Late April is a better time to visit because most of the breeding is complete but the males are still actively strutting. The weather is usually better too.
WHAT ELSE YOU CAN DO
- Respect the birds providing your recreation.
- Always practice ethical and responsible bird watching.
- Keep pets under control and away from all wildlife. Dog training on sage-grouse outside the hunting season is not legal.
- Don’t camp on desert springs or wet meadows in late summer.
- Restrict your ORV use in sage-grouse habitats. Stay on established roads and trails. Off-road use in the spring can disturb or destroy nests.
- Visit WGF’s sage-grouse web page to learn more about sage-grouse conservation: wgfd.wyo.gov/Habitat/Sage-Grouse-Management
- Report harassment of sage-grouse, or any wildlife, to the STOP Poaching Hotline:
1-877-WGFD-TIP (1-877-943-3847) or
Text keyword WGFD and message 847-477.
Below is a map of available Sage-Grouse lek locations around Wyoming.
Twin Creek Viewing site information:
How to get there: Take Hwy 287/789 southeast of Lander 8.3 miles to the Rawlins Junction. (Intersection of Hwy 28 and Hwy. 287/789). Travel east on Hwy 287/789 about 9.7 miles (1 mile past the Twin Creek Rd). Turn left (north) onto a pipeline road through a cattle guard. Stay to the right on a two-track road about 0.4 miles to the edge of a clearing in the sagebrush at the end of a pond dam. The grouse strut in the clearing just to the left of the dam. Avoid the two-track road if muddy. More here.
Click here to get further detailed information about each viewing site.