PRICE — One of the iconic native species of the West is the greater sage grouse. Every spring, these birds gather at sites adjacent to nesting grounds called leks, where the males put on elaborate displays of courtship characterized by strutting and unique vocalizations.
You can witness this ritual yourself at a free wildlife viewing event near Price on April 8. The event will be held at Emma Park, about 13 miles north of Price.
Because sage grouse are sensitive to human disturbances, the event will be limited to 15 vehicles, and pre-registration is required. Viewing the birds is best before and right after sunrise, so attendees will need to be at the site early. Sage grouse usually leave their strutting ground within an hour after sun-up.
Division of Wildlife Resources biologists will be there to help you find the birds and answer questions about sage grouse biology and management.
“Watching sage grouse perform their impressive rituals, on traditional strutting grounds, is an extraordinary experience,” says Morgan Jacobsen, regional conservation outreach manager for the DWR. “This is a chance to escape the busyness of life and watch a quiet, yet remarkable, natural event in Utah.”
Photographers will likely be challenged by their distance from the leks, as well as obstructions posed by brush and rolling terrain. Binoculars and spotting scopes will be available for attendees who don’t have their own.
Before making the trip, please be aware that other limiting factors may cause the grouse to leave the viewing site early or to not visit the site at all. Eagles, coyotes and other predators can scare them away. Wind, rain or snow can also cause them to seek cover and stay out of sight.
“As with any wildlife viewing event, there’s no guarantee the elements will be perfect,” Jacobsen says. “Part of the joy that comes from witnessing these birds in such a special setting is knowing it doesn’t happen every day.”
For more information or to register for the event, contact Jacobsen at 435-613-3707 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To get to Emma Park from the Wasatch Front, travel east on U.S. Highway 6 from Spanish Fork. At the top of Price Canyon, look for the Emma Park turnoff near mile marker 221, and turn left onto the Emma Park Road. Travel east until you see vehicles with the DWR logo on their doors.
To get to Emma Park from Price, travel north on U.S. Highway 6 to the Castle Gate power plant. Turn right onto U.S. Highway 191, and travel northeast about six miles to a fork in the road. Turn left onto the Emma Park Road, and travel west until you see the state vehicles.