The snipe has at least three, and maybe more, vocalizations. Two of the calls are usually heard only during nesting season and are uttered when the bird is safely perched (on the ground, a fence post, or a tree stump). One call is rather pleasant, similar to the pipe of a frog, like a "keek-keek-keek." The second sound they make while perched is harsh, and not as engaging. The latter call is more of a "kuk-kuk-kuk". The bird calls repetitively, in a slow manner, often for lengthy periods of time. The third call is also more harsh than pleasant. The snipe gives a raspy "scaip-scaip", but it is repeated, in an animated manner. This call normally occurs when the snipe is flushed.
Sage Grouse (Centrocercus)
The sage grouse is a big bird ranging from 22 to 30 inches in length depending on its sex. It is also rather round of shape and has been compared to a multi-colored basketball.
The adult male has a grayed nape, back and upperwings spattered with white. His brownish black throat and a v-shaped neck mark are also delineated by white. Over each eye is a bright yellow comb. The belly is black, the breast is white, and there are two olive green air sacs that inflate during display.
The adult female is not as colorful as the male. Sage grouse hens have a buffy throat with black markings. The lower portion of the throat and the breast are ribboned with dark brown to black brown markings and over dulled gray plumage mottled with white. The belly is dark.
These grouse have long, pointed tails and their legs are feathered to the base of their toes. Immature birds resemble pale adult females.
Average Weight Range
Sage grouse weigh five to six pounds if male, and two to three pounds if female.
Sage grouse offer one of the most distinctive and elaborate of mating rituals. The males, each spring, gather at historic breeding lands that biologists refer to as "leks." A lek is simply a strutting ground. And strut the male sage grouse does. In this open area, the males perform a complex mating display that is both physical and vocal. A male arrives at the lek, spreads his enormous round wings, inflates the olive green air sacs and begins to prance, parade, swagger, and strut with a capital "s." The inflated air sacs, which are situated on his breast, generate a unique, even sound that has been described as "plopping." The male continues this display and adds the deflation of his air sacs, head thrusts, and "burbles." The purpose of this intricate dance is both to enchant a female sage grouse and demonstrate this dominance to other male, thereby effectively protecting their territory.
Female sage grouse, amazingly enough, tend to ignore this behavior until they are ready to breed. At that time, the female crisscrosses the lek, squatting in front of her chosen mate. The hen lays 7 to 13 olive to tan lightly spotted eggs. Her nest is a well-hidden earthen depression that is lined with grass. Her eggs incubate for 24-27 days and young fledge in 7 to 10. She has but one brood per year.
As the name of this bird implies, sagebrush is a large part of its diet. It supplements with other green plant matter, flowers and some seeds and insects.
The range extends from southern British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan south the western Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Nevada and eastern California.
The sage grouse's habitat includes open country, plains, foothills, and sagebrush semi-desert.
Common Hunting Methods
Sage grouse are hunted with a wide variety of shotguns. Birds can be located by using dogs or by glassing likely habitat. Areas to glass would include water holes, stock tanks, and sagebrush edges. Once located sage grouse are walked up on and flushed.
Sage grouse are excellent runners and if hunted hard enough in an area will begin to run ahead of or flush wildly in front of the hunter. This unpredictability adds to the experience of the hunt. These grouse are hunted for their meat and their beautiful mounts.
Biologists from many western states have written extensively about the value of the Sage Grouse to the heritage of the West.
One state, Idaho, states that "No other bird better symbolizes Idaho's high desert country more than the sage grouse."