Sharp-tailed Grouse on a Lek



Sharp-tailed Grouse on a Lek

Written by Todd Peterson

From a Dialog with Gerrit Vyn 

That is BirdNote!

[Display sounds of male Sharp-tailed Grouse]

It’s earlier than daybreak, this April morning, on a North Dakota prairie. Sitting quietly close to an increase of floor, we start to listen to eerie whoops and cackling. [display sounds of Sharp-tailed Grouse] After which what sound like little motors working. [‘motor’ sounds made by the rattling of tail feathers while stomping very rapidly] 

At first mild, we see the supply of this otherworldly refrain: male Sharp-tailed Grouse performing their elaborate mating dances. The scale of small chickens, they dance on a matted patch of floor referred to as a lek. Collectively, they’re stomping their toes, extending their wings, and zipping across the lek. Then, on the similar instantaneous, they cease – stock-still. All this to impress the feminine grouse observing from the sidelines.

 [Mating display sounds of Sharp-tailed Grouse]

This wondrous, unusual show is uncommon. All through the world, only a few species of birds, maybe fewer than 100, use leks when breeding.  

With oil and fuel drilling and the conversion of grasslands to agriculture, habitat for Sharp-tailed Grouse is turning into scarcer and extra fragmented. [brief cooing]

This morning, the Lostwood Nationwide Wildlife Refuge in North Dakota provides our birds a spot to reenact their historic ritual and start the cycle of their lives anew. 

[Mating display sounds of Sharp-tailed Grouse]

To see movies, start at


Bird sounds offered by The Macaulay Library of Pure Sounds on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York.  Mating show sounds of male Sharp-tailed Grouse [141142] recorded by Gerrit Vyn. 

BirdNote’s theme music was composed and performed by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.

Producer: John Kessler

Govt Producer: Chris Peterson

© 2014 Tune In to    April 2014/2018/2022   Narrator:  Michael Stein

ID#    STGR-lek-01-2014-04-07 (topic to alter)STGR-lek-01

Lostwood Nationwide Wildlife Refuge,


Video in tremendous sluggish movement of males preventing:


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