Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Getting on the Endangered Species List

The Gunnison Sage-Grouse

     Quite possibly the rarest bird in America, the Gunnison sage-grouse is decreasing in number rapidly after its recent discovery as a new species in 2000. They differ from the Greater sage-grouse in size and behaviors. There are less than 5,000 of these birds still in the wild at present time, distributed through populations in Colorado and Utah.
     Due to their small size, their genetic diversity is much lower than that of other grouses. It is because of this that they are more susceptible of illness and have more difficulty adjusting to environmental changes. They are limited with their ability to evolve and compete with others for resources.
     The Gunnison sage-grouse is also known as the “bubble-pop bird” because of its unique courtship behaviors. Similar to the greater sage-grouse, but at a slower pace, it struts in front of the desired female, and makes a popping noise as it inflates the pouches on its chest.
     Soon after its discovery as a different species, steps have been taken towards adding this bird to the endangered species list. Unfortunately, this is a rather long and complicated process in which many factors need to be explored before any actions can be taken. This process can take decades. The following is an excerpt of the questions that need to be explored towards adding an animal to the endangered species list from the national wildlife federation website:
  •  Has a large percentage of the species vital habitat been degraded or destroyed?
    Has the species been over-consumed by commercial, recreational, scientific or educational uses?
  • Is the species threatened by disease or predation?
  • Do current regulations or legislations inadequately protect the species?
  • Are there other manmade factors that threaten the long-term survival of the species? (1)”
     Hopefully, the Gunnison sage-grouse will be added to the endangered species list before their population declines much further and hey move into extinction.

Posted by: Ashley Sterpka (1)



  1. Do humans play a major role in the bird's rate of extinction?

    Kimberly Ty (3)

    1. Although humans can be said to play a role in the extinction of many animals, this decrease in number of the Gunnison sage-grouse has more to do with the limited number decreasing genetic diversity and discouraging resistance to disease and survival.

      -Ashley Sterpka (1)

  2. Is there any particular reason why this species is declining so rapidly after its recent discovery? Does it have any predators or competition that is causing its rapid decline?

    Gabrielle Wertheim (3)

    1. Mostly loss and separation of habitats have decreased the number of the Gunnison sage-grouse. There has been a lot of destruction of the brush where it would normally live, decreasing where it can exist and also further separating populations.

      -Ashley Sterpka (1)

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. That's one of the most exotic looking birds I've ever seen and it would be a shame to lose such a beautiful native species to extinction. It's interesting how sexual selection has lead these birds to have pouches on their chests to attract mates. Hopefully these birds become a protected species so that their numbers will rise back to a normal level.

    Posted by Poya Jafari (2)

    1. The Gunnison sage-grouse's plumage is very unique and exotic. For birds, the extravagant display of features like this is a method of displaying that they have good genes. Females pick the males with better features because they will pass on better genes to their offspring.

      -Ashley Sterpka (1)