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Two grouse on a road less traveled

Over this past weekend, I worked deer check in a cold, windy and snowy Ord.  Following my tour of duty, I headed back to Lincoln Monday morning.  Rather than taking highways, I took roads less traveled.  My decision did not involve yellow wood or trails that bent in the undergrowth, I was simply interested in seeing what birds I could find.  My expectations were tempered because Monday morning temperatures were in the single digits and a stiff wind was howling out of the northwest.  Being one traveler, I puttered on my way.  Not far from Ord, I came across a loose flock of Sharp-tailed Grouse perched in plums, trees, and on wires right along the roadside.

Sharp-tailed Grouse
Part of the group of Sharp-tailed Grouse in Valley County.

I always like seeing grouse and, in particular, having extended looks of these birds as opposed to brief views of their backsides flying away from me, which is the usual experience.  As I was observing the birds, I noticed one of these grouse was not like the other.   A single Greater Prairie-Chicken was in this flock of Sharp-tailed Grouse.  Both that morning equally…sat there, on the gate.  I was fortunate to have a camera with me and I snapped a few photos.

Sharp-tailed Grouse and Greater Prairie-Chicken
A Greater Prairie-Chicken (top) and a Sharp-tailed Grouse pose together on a roadside gate in a cold Valley County on 17 November

I shall be telling this with a sigh, the photographs I captured are, by any measure, mediocre.  Nevertheless, I enjoyed getting these two species next to one another in a single frame.  An added bonus was spotting two Rusty Blackbirds I would have otherwise driven right by had I not slowed down to observe the grouse.

Sharp-tailed Grouse
A Sharp-tailed Grouse perched on a wire.

I took roads less traveled, and that made all the difference.

Thanks to all the good folks that came through the Ord deer check station over the weekend, the friendly staff at the Pump-n-Pantry and Mrs. Grinberg for having her 10th grade English class memorize a certain poem that has been rolling around my head ever since.  

Nongame Bird Blog

About Joel Jorgensen

Joel Jorgensen is a Nebraska native and he has been interested in birds just about as long as he has been breathing. He has been NGPC’s Nongame Bird Program Manager for eight years and he works on a array of monitoring, research, regulatory and conservation issues. Nongame birds are the 400 or so species that are not hunted and include the Whooping Crane, Least Tern, Piping Plover, Bald Eagle, and Peregrine Falcon. When not working, he enjoys birding.

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