A springtime spectacle to attract a sage grouse hen © Bob Curr
One of the first sights and sounds of spring in Grasslands National Park is the spectacular dance of the male sage grouse. Strutting around the park’s sagebrush flatlands, he puffs up his chest and fans out his tail, hoping to attract a female. The Greater Sage Grouse is North America’s largest species of grouse. Yet despite their size and splendour, this species at risk is endangered.
One of the few active groups of sage grouse left in Canada is found deep in southern Saskatchewan, in the East Block of Grasslands National Park. While other Canadian sage grouse are seriously declining, this group has been holding its own. Recently, these grouse have received international attention from researchers from United States who have discovered that the Grasslands National Park – East Block sage grouse migrate more than 140 km to over winter in north central Montana. This is the only population of grouse in Canada known to migrate and this is the longest migration of sage grouse ever recorded! Parks Canada continues to work in collaboration with partners to be a leader in the effective recovery for species at risk in national parks.
Sage grouse dance on a traditional lek site © Wendy Michael