Laser Focus on Sage Grouse
March 5, 2018
Magazine article: Alarms wake the researchers, students, and technicians living in “Chicken Camp” at 3:45 a.m. this chilly April morning. Now, caffeinated and bristling with gear they head out into the rolling sage-tufted hills near Lander, Wyoming. They drive trucks down a rutted two-track and walk stealthily the last few hundred yards to a small clearing in the sage. The crew quietly sets up blinds, microphones, Go-Pro cameras, an amplifier, an mp3 player, and other gear. They settle in, switch off headlamps, and listen, prepared to wait more than an hour.
“It sounds like a bomber coming in—you’ll hear whistling through the feathers,” says Gail Patricelli, leader of the crew and a professor at the University of California, Davis. “Almost like a helicopter landing,” says Ryane Logsdon, a PhD candidate in Patricelli’s lab.
A greater sage-grouse male struts for a female at a lek (dancing or mating ground) near Bridgeport, CA, photo credit: Jeannie Stafford/USFWS