I’m pleased that the online version of Audubon Magazine used my video of Columbian sharp-tailed grouse to accompany the still photographs by my friend Noppadol Paothong. Over the years, I have accompanied Nop on several trips to this lek. His photos and my video were from our most recent visit last spring. The link to my video is about ¾ down into the story. As the story says, traveling to the lek is via snowshoe in the dark, and the conditions are typically windy and very cold. That’s just the beginning, though. Shooting video of sharp-tailed grouse is an even greater challenge. Even with state-of-the-art cameras, shooting video of sharp-tailed grouse is difficult due to their incredibly fast and erratic movements. However, witnessing the highly animated dancing courtship displays to impress females to mate is worth the effort.
While it is a fun challenge, it is, more importantly, a subject whose story needs telling. First described by the Lewis & Clark expedition, Columbian sharp-tailed grouse were once the most abundant grouse in the West. Today, Columbian sharp-tailed grouse occupy less than 10 percent of its historic range. It is currently considered a Species of Concern in several U.S. states.
LINK TO AUDUBON MAGAZINE STORY WITH THE VIDEO: https://www.audubon.org/magazine/spring-2023/a-dancers-stage