The Gunnison Grouse, also known as the Gunnison sage-grouse, is a species of bird that is indigenous to North America. The bird is named after the Gunnison River Basin in Colorado, where it was first observed and described.
The Gunnison Grouse is a medium-sized bird, with males weighing around 2.5 kg and females around 1 kg. The males are larger than the females and have longer tails. The bird has a plump body, a short neck, and a round head. Its feathers are brown and gray, and its chin and throat are white. It has a distinctive black patch on its breast and a yellowish-orange patch on its eyebrows.
The Gunnison Grouse is a bird of the sagebrush ecosystem, preferring to inhabit the shrublands and grasslands of the Western United States. It lives in small, separated populations in Colorado, Utah, and Nevada. The bird is primarily herbivorous, feeding on sagebrush vegetation and insects.
The bird is known for its elaborate courtship displays during the breeding season. The males gather in groups called leks to perform their mating dance, which involves puffing up their chests, spreading their tails, and making deep and booming sounds that can be heard from more than a mile away. The females then select their mates based on the quality of their display.
The Gunnison Grouse has been listed as an endangered species since 2000. The main threat to its survival is habitat loss and fragmentation due to human activities, such as urbanization, oil and gas development, and livestock grazing. Climate change and predation by animals like coyotes and ravens also pose a risk to the bird.
Conservation efforts for the Gunnison Grouse include habitat restoration, captive breeding programs, and monitoring of its populations and habitat. The bird's habitat is protected by the Endangered Species Act, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service has created a conservation plan to conserve its populations.
Overall, the Gunnison Grouse is a unique and threatened bird species, whose conservation is crucial to the maintenance of biodiversity and the integrity of the sagebrush ecosystem.