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)