It seems like just the other day excited guests had gathered at the dance. The performers had just relaxed from the tension of an unwelcome visitor when a brawl was about to break out in the corner…..
The males squared-off hackles raised ducking and weaving looking for weakness. Suddenly in a flurry of feathers and dust, the first kick was delivered. The birds staggered back flapping their wings. Regaining their balance, they began delicately circle one another, when again, one launched! The force of the blow caused the big male to stagger. As they parted, the guests watching in horror could see flecks of blood coating the once pure white feathers of the male birds. A third time the males squared off and tensions escalated.
Suddenly, as if from nowhere, a large shadow passed over the dancers. In the blink of an eye the birds scattered flying off in all directions, abandoning their duel and the now dangerous dance floor to its new start – a massive Golden Eagle. Like a show girl taking the stage in Vegas, the flashy eagle ruffled her feathers, took a spin on the deserted
dance floor and then departed into the setting moon as quickly and quietly as she had appeared.
This year’s dance was over though the true finale is yet to come. For even
now, snugly sheltered in their delicate eggs, the next generation of Grouse awaits. Soon to hatch they will be ready and willing to perform – The Forbidden Dance.
“Historical” Facts of the story of the Forbidden Dance
CEC, with support from Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the Wilderness
Society, Rocky Mountain Wild, Friends of Northwest Colorado and other
partners, provided one training trip for new grouse guides and four public trips to view Greater Sage Grouse in Northwest Colorado.
During the guides training trip, held on April 1st, a Harrier Hawk visited the “lek.” Fights between male grouse are a frequent sight as competition to mate is fierce among the birds. On the final trip, held April 9th, the combined light of the rising sun and
the setting full moon proved perfectly enticing to a massive Golden Eagle
who quickly raided the lek. Regardless of these interruptions, we hope each and every
guest left with the memory of a life time – an incredible wildlife encounter to be certain – and photos to prove it!
If you wish to view and/or purchase photos of Greater Sage Grouse taken
during the 2012 tours please visit:
If you are interested in joining us for a tour in 2013, check our website January 2013 for information!