The Sharp Tailed Grouse

Sharp Tailed Sage Grouse

I find the Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons area absolutely amazing. Everywhere you go exploring you’ll always find something out of the ordinary.

I was driving across the bridge towards my favorite location to photograph where I happened to see an amazing find.

As I was searching for a specific animal, I happened to look up into the sky. To my surprise I spotted this beautiful bird that I’ve never seen before. This is what I love about photographing this area. Regardless of what direction I take, everywhere I go I see something that I’ve never seen before.

This always provides such an adrenaline rush and I can always tell by the way my hands are shaking when I snap my photographs. It’s almost like being born again; it’s an amazing rush. I don’t think I could ever find anything that makes me as happy as photography does.

Fortunately this bird stuck around long enough for me to pull off a wonderful shot while not using my tripod. I’ve always found it a little bit tricky to photograph a bird.

After doing my research what I have learned is that this bird is a little bit out of his element. According to the internet this bird shouldn’t really be in this area, but we have had major cold fronts that have come through at this time. I think it has pushed him into the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone area for protection. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Sharp-tailed_Grouse/maps-range

More on the Sharp Tailed Grouse: 

Sharp-tailed Grouse
(Genus, species:  Tympanuchus phasianellus)

The sharp-tailed grouse are one of the larger grouse.  They have sharp pointed tails which stick straight up when the birds are displaying.  They are often mistaken for their cousin, the prairie chicken.

One of the more interesting details of the sharp-tailed grouse relates to their courting rituals.  The males gather on a group breeding ground called a lek and show off (or display) for the females.

When displaying, the males point their tails up, spread their wings, hold their heads low, and stamp their feet in a sort of stutter-dance that looks a lot like an airplane trying to take off.  The males of a community all dance at the same time as a part of their battle over territory and to impress females.

First Nations people call the sharp-tailed grouse the “fire bird” because their habitat was kept open by fires that killed trees and shrubs.

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