Sage-grouse in Springtime: Lands for a thousand dances
by Heather Feeney, Public Affairs Specialist
From early March through mid-May, the short-grass steppe, windswept ridges and exposed knolls of sagebrush country come alive with color, motion and sound after the slow white of winter.
Greater sage-grouse are lekking.
Males fan their tails, strut, and announce their presence by popping air in and out of the yellow gular sacs on their chests – all to attract breeding partners.
The less showy females have selected these areas because of their proximity to more thickly vegetated lands that can shelter nests. Hens may visit multiple leks per season, while males stay at a single location. Sage-grouse exhibit strong fidelity to particular leks, returning year after year to a place where they’ve successfully bred in past seasons.
The BLM usesbuffers around leks that lie on public lands to avoid or minimize fragmentation and disruption of these crucial habitats. Buffers are sized according to scientific research and vary according to local conditions and population characteristics.