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Colorado: Greater sage-grouse viewing tours offered

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Greater sage-grouse. Photo courtesy Brian Currie/Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

State biologists team up with Conservation Colorado to offer wildlife-friendly bird watching

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — From afar, the wide-open sagebrush steppes of the Great Basin and Colorado Plateau can look stark and daunting, but each spring, the region comes to life with the mating ritual of greater sage-grouse.

The birds gather in traditional mating grounds, called leks, where the males spread their impressive tail feathers and strut while inflating and popping giant air sacs on their necks to impress the females.

The best available science suggests that greater sage-grouse qualify for endangered species status and studies are under way to develop the best possible conservation plans.

The leks aren’t always easy to find, but this year, Colorado Parks and Wildlife is partnering with Conservation Colorado to offer public guided, greater sage-grouse viewing tours in northwest Colorado, from March 28 through April 7.

“If you are a dedicated bird watcher, sage-grouse mating is certainly one for your life-list,” said Watchable Wildlife Coordinator Trina Romero, of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “But even a casual wildlife watcher will be in awe of this beautiful display.”

Space is limited and reservations are required. To reserve your spot, visit: http://conservationco.org/2013/02/sage-grouse-tours/.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife provides a viewing trailer for the guided tour so that people can sit inside and not disturb the grouse on the lek.

“It’s a responsible way to observe lekking behavior, and I highly recommend it,” said Romero. “Ethical wildlife viewing, especially of a sensitive species, should be a priority for all wildlife viewers.”

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