Jun 1, 2023
Through the gray dawn, I heard the grouse clucking and their feathers rustling as they returned to the lek and began to display. I could see their sharp tails spiked vertically as they spread their wings stiffly and stamped their feet. Wings flapped aggressively when two rivals came together.
In the end, the most impressive thing about my visit to the lek wasn’t the dancing birds, but the knowledge that land managers are coming together to prioritize the habitat of a fascinating but declining bird. And it’s working. The sharp-tails I helped to count are part of a population that has almost doubled since last year. With any luck, I’ll say that again next spring.