One of nature’s most amazing courtship rituals is going on across the West right now as sage grouse have gathered on traditional leks to mate.
The male grouse make weird sounds and strut their stuff, putting on a show for the females.
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is providing an opportunity to watch the show April 5 near Price, but it requires getting up early.
State wildlife biologists will be at Emma Park, about 13 miles north of Price before dawn and armed with spotting scopes and binoculars to help the public get a better view of the fancy mating ritual.
It is important to be there at sunrise. The birds are most active at dawn and are typically done dancing and singing about an hour after sunrise.
The grouse are usually pretty focused on their strutting, but people can scare them away if they get too close or too loud. Be respectful of the grouse and the other observers and keep your distance.
The birds at this location are greater sage grouse and are recognized by the state as a sensitive species. The disappearance of the greater sage grouse from much of their historic range has prompted federal officials to determine by the end of 2015 whether the bird warrants federal protection.
The Gunnison sage grouse is similar to the greater, but is limited to the southeastern corner of Utah and southwestern Colorado. It is being reviewed for a possible listing of endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
To reach the viewing location from the Wasatch Front head east on Highway 6 from Spanish Fork. At the top of Price Canyon turn left on the Emma Park Road (U.S. 191) for six miles. Look for Division of Wildlife Resources trucks at a turnoff. Officials in the trucks will have further details.
For more information about the free viewing event call Brent Stettler at 435-613-3707 or 435-636-6731.
Watch sage grouse strut their stuff
Utah Division of Wildlife Resources officials provide a look at strutting sage grouse in southwestern Utah in this video