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Sharp-tailed Grouse Lek

North Dakota is home to several upland game species. Arguably one of the most entertaining of these is the sharp-tailed grouse. In the spring these grouse can be found on leks (dancing grounds) where males display to attract mates.

While the criteria for (vegetation and topography play a role as the birds prefer areas with low grass height and an easy view of the surrounding area to better detect approaching predators), lek locations tend to persist even in the face of limited human disturbance such as the addition of fencing, water tanks or salt licks to the area.

And even when abandon for a time, sites are sometimes reestablished. One of our biologists gave this example, “Occasionally a sharptail lek will become inactive after severe winters or successive poor nesting seasons. I have seen grouse show up and begin dancing at historic lek locations that had been surveyed and inactive for more than 10 years (beyond the lifespan of most sharptail). Incredibly, individuals that were not yet hatched the last time grouse danced on that knoll, showed up knew to dance at the exact coordinates!“