Walden and Greater Sage-Grouse

Greater Sage-Grouse at the lek near Walden, Colorado
Ever since we starting birdwatching, Susan has been very keen to visit a lek, a location where several types of grouse and chickens perform mating dances to impress females during mating season.

We learned of what sounded like a very good Greater Sage-Grouse lek near Walden, Colorado from another birder/photographer friend (thanks Lyn!), so we decided to check it out.

We visited the lek site once in the evening and then on two very early mornings (arriving before first light and using our car as a blind). The grouse put on an excellent show! We saw as many as 47 total birds at once, with 3 or 4 females.

You can click on any picture to see a larger version.

Males trying to impress a female (right)

Male Greater Sage-Grouse showing off his air sacs

The male Great Sage-Grouse mating displays are very dramatic! Lots of strutting around, chasing away less dominant competitors, displaying their elegant tail feathers, puffing up their chests, and then inflating and noisily bouncing their fancy air sacs.

We also did some other birding in the Walden area at the Moose Visitor Center, Hebron Waterfowl Area, Arapaho NWR, and Walden Reservoir. We had a very productive few days!

We had a exceptionally good encounter with Peregrine Falcons (new on our life list) on the road to Delaney Butte. We watched them fly and hunt, interact, and even pose for us on a fence post as Susan shot from the car.

Juvenile Peregrine Falcon posing for Susan

Here's looking at YOU! (glad I'm not the prey)

Peregrine Falcon in flight

We also spent two very comfortable and affordable nights at the Antlers Inn in Walden. The food at the River Rock Cafe was excellent, too!

Upstairs parlor at the Antlers Inn in Walden

This was a great little trip and we'll be going back for more birding and maybe moose adventures this summer.

I'll end this post with a really fun picture Susan took of a sage-grouse in flight. It was a quick snapshot that turned into a very cool abstract!