Sharp-tailed Dancers

Outstanding video from the Alberta Conservation Association!

The sharp-tailed grouse is a native game bird that makes its home in the prairies, parklands and forest openings of Alberta. For much of the year the sharp-tailed grouse is a quiet, well-camouflaged bird; however, its spring shenanigans are undoubtedly one of the most impressive spectacles in Alberta’s natural history calendar.

Sharp-tailed grouse perform spring courtship displays on communal “dancing grounds”, called leks. Here males compete for breeding opportunities by displaying their “dancing” ability to females.

Leks are found in areas with dry open ground, where dancing activity keeps the vegetation well-trampled. Leks are used over several weeks beginning in late March and are often used for years, even decades. They are an important part of sharp-tailed grouse life, and the loss of suitable lek habitat can be a limiting factor for sharp-tailed grouse in Alberta.

Don’t Cut In On a Dance

Leks are an integral part of the lifecycle of prairie grouse. Active leks should never be approached, as any disturbance to the birds may disrupt breeding activities and result in the abandonment of the lek. The locations of active and historical leks are of great interest to grouse biologists. To report a lek, contact Alberta Conservation Association (ACA).

More about ACA’s work with sharp-tailed grouse

Video by Mike Jokinen, ACA. Text adapted from “Alberta’s Sharp-tailed Grouse” by Liz Saunders.

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