Sage Grouse Mate

SAGE GROUSE MATINGHere’s a program from our archives. Ambience: Sage Grouse There’s nothing like the sounds of the birds of Spring: the chirping of the robin, the pecking of the woodpecker…and the popping of the sage grouse. That sound, made by the male sage grouse, is as unique as the mating ritual these birds are going through this time of year. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Jones: You’re hearing the primary vocalization that males give during their displays. And the two most common things that we’re hearing are two swishing sounds that are made by the male rubbing the inside of his wings against two large inflated pouches that originate in the bird’s esophagus. And then we’re hearing two intense popping sounds made by each male when they force air out of the two esophageal pouches.Steven Pruett Jones is an associate professor at the University of Chicago.Jones: Well, the sage grouse, besides being an important species of bird in North America, is from an evolutionary biologist’s standpoint, particularly interesting because of its reproductive behavior. During the breeding season, males and females don’t form pairs and males don’t defend territories, but rather the males get together and congregate at display sites and the females come and visit the males and presumably choose who they want to mate with, and then go off and perform all nesting duties by themselves without any assistance from the males.So the male sage grouse will continue to hang out together, popping away, as long as the females keep coming by.I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Sage Grouse Mate

The strange sounds of the male sage grouse are matched only by their equally unusual reproductive behavior.
Air Date:03/06/2020
Scientist:
Transcript:

SAGE GROUSE MATINGHere's a program from our archives. Ambience: Sage Grouse There's nothing like the sounds of the birds of Spring: the chirping of the robin, the pecking of the woodpecker...and the popping of the sage grouse. That sound, made by the male sage grouse, is as unique as the mating ritual these birds are going through this time of year. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Jones: You're hearing the primary vocalization that males give during their displays. And the two most common things that we're hearing are two swishing sounds that are made by the male rubbing the inside of his wings against two large inflated pouches that originate in the bird's esophagus. And then we're hearing two intense popping sounds made by each male when they force air out of the two esophageal pouches.Steven Pruett Jones is an associate professor at the University of Chicago.Jones: Well, the sage grouse, besides being an important species of bird in North America, is from an evolutionary biologist's standpoint, particularly interesting because of its reproductive behavior. During the breeding season, males and females don't form pairs and males don't defend territories, but rather the males get together and congregate at display sites and the females come and visit the males and presumably choose who they want to mate with, and then go off and perform all nesting duties by themselves without any assistance from the males.So the male sage grouse will continue to hang out together, popping away, as long as the females keep coming by.I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.