During mating season, male sage grouse strut near females, making a dramatic popping sound as they force air through big chest sacs.
The threatened birds gather at mating grounds, called “leks.” They’re sensitive to disturbance, so the live video stream is a good way to watch the unusual ritual.
“You get to see the birds in action and you can do it while sipping a hot cup of coffee in your pajamas and the birds don’t feel like they’re being peeped on,” said Sarah Levy, public affairs officer with the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Sage grouse tend to be most active during mating season between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. Bird enthusiasts who don’t want to wake up that early can still catch some of the most exciting displays. “The ‘hot moments’ will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, said Levy. “We will be storing some of the best clips on the site.”
In 2015, the federal government determined that the species did not need to be listed as endangered. Officials deemed local conservation plans would be sufficient to restore grouse populations.
This is the third year that the US Fish and Wildlife Service has installed a web cam at a sage grouse lek in Oregon. Levy said she hopes many Oregonians will take the opportunity to get a glimpse into one of the state’s most fascinating bird species.
“It’s a pretty incredible wildlife spectacle to see male sage grouse fanning their tale feathers and strutting in an effort to attract females,” said Levy.