Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sharptailed grouse are at it again.

The Sharptailed grouse are at it again.  Chasing the girls and fighting over bragging and breeding rights.  With their tails held high, looking like popcorn exploding, they are not hard to find once you get into their area.  The beating of the ground with their feets and their calls can be heard for a quarter of a mile.  Most of the battles are short but occasionally a battle over the center of the lek can be several minutes long.  I just witnessed one such battle last week.

It started with a challenger attacking the dominate bird on the lek.


The fierce battle ensued.  They locked bills, not unlike a lustful Hollywood french kiss, with both bodies twisting trying to gain control over the opponent.



Soon after the "kiss" broke up, both bird would fly into the air beating each other with their wings.  At one time, both locked onto the left wing of the other with such violence I thought we might end up with a broken wing - but they survived without anything broken.



To end the battle, the dominent bird "pinned" the challenger, by flipping it on its back.



To escape the fierce battle, the losser flew to the hood of my truck, resting there for a couple of minutes before it realized there may be danger inside.



Meanwhile, the victor rested on the ground showing the feathers of honor still in its beak, daring any other bird stupid enough to challenge him.



What a way to start another wild day in Idaho.  Two hours of sex and violence beating the heck out of  any TV show or movie I have seen - except for some recent Sage grouse shows.

18 comments:

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Wow Bill..... I would have sat and watched that myself... That's better than any movie or TV show (as you said).... Great pictures.... BUT--since I usually go for the underdog, I feel a little sorry for him...

Have a good week.
Betsy

Bill said...

Just incredible pictures!

Idaho Birder said...

I just saw my first ever Sharp-tailed Grouse this last Wednesday. We didn't get the full display action, but a little bit of sparing. Keep up the great work Bill!

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Bill: Wonderful photos of the fighting grouse. I'll show these to the grandkids.

Barefoot from Heaven said...

Ha you just made my day with these gorgious birds Bill. How wonderful you could have this experiance and share it with us. Thanks.

gnee said...

Love your blog, great shots of Idaho and birds. I'm awarding you a "Happiness 101" Award!
http://singingwithbirds.blogspot.com

Happy Monday!

Mary Howell Cromer said...

Bill, how exciting this all must have been to observe and your images are marvelous. As I read your narrative, it flowed beautifully with each image shown. KUDOS~

Kelly said...

...what an interesting post! Great photos...great narration. I really liked it (and would love to see these fellows in real life one of these days!).

me ann my camera said...

fascinating post. What a grand photo opportunity. Nature has programned some if its creatures to act out such a firce ritualiatic performance that it demands amazemant from the viewer. Once I recall sitting in my truck lsughing st the strutting walk and call of a game bird crossing the road.I think it was a woodcock. The antics of some birds are so amusing and entertaining to watch. But the ones that you include here are not funny,but very serious behaviour especially rto the loser. Have a great week. Ann

KaHolly said...

Bill, talk about being in the right place at the right time! I enjoyed your photo essay and dialogue very much as I remembered the thrill of traisping through the woods and hearing them drumming the ground in the distance. Time stands still each and every time! ~ks

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Incredible Bill! All I can say is thanks for sharing. Beautiful pictures -- The contrast of the victor with the feather badge of honor in his mouth and the poor loser taking refuge on your hood after the fight. A dramatic ending to a great story.

outwalkingthedog said...

That's amazing. I had no idea grouse were so, well, fierce!

eileeninmd said...

A great way to start the day. Cool shots of the Grouse!

NatureFootstep said...

I bet it is better then any TV -show. :)
And you got such gret shots :)

Kathiesbirds said...

Bill, I so agree with you! This is way better than TV! What a sight that must have been! Wish I had seen it for myself! (You do know that you live in my favorite state, don't you?)

Cloudia said...

Masterful sharing, Bill!
Aloha from Waikiki


Comfort Spiral

Monts said...

Great sequence of shots Bill , those guys certainly go for it. Another pair of Wild Birds in Idaho.

Shirleyanne said...

Gosh Bill! Fantastic post + series of photos. Nature can really offers some memorable scenes!
Thank You for sharing!

Thank you also for such kind comments you leave on my blog.