North Park and the Greater Sage-Grouse
North Park boasts one of the largest Greater Sage-Grouse populations in Colorado and, especially during springtime leks, is a prime “birding destination” for those who want to see these special birds strut their stuff, so to speak, in a fascinatingly complex and ritualistic breeding display.
The largest grouse in North America, the male Greater Sage-Grouse often weighs more than four to five pounds, with the hens weighing in at two to three. White breast feathers on the males conceal two skin sacs that are yellow in color, which are used in their courtship displays. Males also have yellow eyecombs, very evident when courting. Both females and males have similar coloration and pointed tail feathers.
During the winter, sagebrush accounts for 100 percent of the Greater Sage-Grouse diet, as well serving as protection from the elements and predators. Just before spring, the males arrive at their traditional strutting grounds or leks, with the females arriving about one to two weeks later. Leks occur in open areas adjacent to or within the sagebrush, and breeding occurs on the leks and in the adjacent sagebrush, usually from March through May. After breeding, females nest in the sagebrush and lay a clutch of seven to nine eggs, which hatch after about 26 days. Moist areas close to the sagebrush serve as a new home for hungry chicks that thrive on insects. At 10 to 12 weeks, when the chicks have their juvenile plumage, the broods disperse.
Additional birding information and wildlife viewing: Wildlife Viewing