Mesmerizing Mating Displays at a Greater Sage-Grouse Lek

/, Greater Sage-Grouse, Utah, Wayne County/Mesmerizing Mating Displays at a Greater Sage-Grouse Lek

Two male Greater Sage-Grouse fighting on a lekTwo male Greater Sage-Grouse fighting on a lek – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/1250, ISO 640, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Yesterday I spent nearly two hours on a Greater Sage-Grouse lek which in itself was a dream come true for me and I came home with hundreds of images of the males displaying and fighting over the opportunity to breed with the females. I was mesmerized by their behaviors and the sounds the males made while on the lek.

It was below freezing and the windows were down the entire time but until the grouse left the lek the engine had to remain off so the birds didn’t flush and you should not leave the lek until the last of the grouse leave it.

I didn’t even notice the biting cold until my hands began to get numb because I was so focused on the birds, their displays and trying to get decent images.

I was fascinated by this courtship display that has happened every spring for eons.

Before the sun came up I tried setting my ISO extremely high but I wasn’t satisfied with the results until the sun crept over the hillside to the east and I lowered my ISO. I knew I had only the one morning to photograph them and I wanted to do them justice with my images.

The male grouse strut, call and fight on the lek, the fights don’t last for very long and generally the males use their wings to attack. I haven’t had time to go through my images but this one caught my eye and I wanted to share it today. These two males faced off with each other before they fought and faced off again after the brief fight.

I will share more Greater Sage-Grouse images from this lek soon but as usual I came home from this trip exhausted and it will take me a few days to get through all the images I took.

Life is good.



  1. Jane Chesebrough April 3, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    Beautiful, worth the discomfort, I am sure.

  2. Utahbooklover March 31, 2015 at 8:41 pm

    How exciting! Love the image and looking forward to more after a deserved rest.

  3. Fern Culhane March 31, 2015 at 6:53 am

    Just WONDER-full!

  4. Elephant's Child March 30, 2015 at 1:14 pm

    Oh my. Oh my, oh my, oh my.
    What a privilege to see.
    Patty’s comment about euphoria is spot on.
    Thank you for sharing some of the magic. And the joy. And the beauty.

  5. Patty Chadwick March 30, 2015 at 9:59 am

    In this instance, wakan roughly translates to sacred euphoria….

  6. Patty Chadwick March 30, 2015 at 9:57 am

    For such “plain” birds, their under wings and tails are so pretty…how very, VERY exciting that opportunity for observation must have been!!! I’m SOOOO glad ypu didn’t have company…made it extra special (and probably a whole lot more possible)…glad you didn’t freeze to death!!! The feeling you had was what the Lakota would call wakan…

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