🌎Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus)🌎
Found in the sagebrush habitat of the western U.S. and southern Canada, these strange birds are known for their unique mating system and peculiar courtship displays. Males have an almost comical pair of gular sacs on their throat that are inflated while strutting during courtship to impress the much smaller females of this species, which the males lure into "leks" (a sort of "arena" for courtship) during the breeding season. These leks consist of groups of up to 30 individual males that congregate together at a given location along the open landscape. Each male has his own micro-territory within the larger circle of males, with the most dominant male's territory being located at the center of the circle, and less dominant males radiating outward. Females are usually most attracted to the dominant male at the center of the circle, but they may sometimes be persuaded by a lower-ranking male to mate before reaching the circle's center. The greater sage-grouse is a ground forager that eats mostly sagebrush plants, wildflowers, and small insects. Interestingly, because members of this species do not have a muscular crop, they cannot digest seeds! The greater sage-grouse is currently listed as Near Threatened due to the effects of habitat loss.
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