Grouse who groove: It's mating season for the sharp-tailed

For avid wildlife photographers, like Cam Barlow, April is an exciting month. The mating season for birds like the sharp-tailed grouse is underway and its a great time to capture amazing pictures.

Wildlife photographer Cam Barlow has taken some amazing pictures

Grouse Dance

7 years ago
Duration 0:47
Grouse mating dance

For avid wildlife photographers, such as Cam Barlow, April is an exciting month. The mating season for birds including the sharp-tailed grouse is underway and it's a great time to capture amazing pictures.

Males of the species strut their stuff, to compete for nesting territory and attract a female mate.

It takes patience to catch the birds ruffling their feathers and Barlow's ability pays off.

"I find it really interesting to watch them do their dance," Barlow, who is from Swift Current, Sask., said. "It's just very entertaining to watch them."

Barlow sets up in a blind and while the birds initially take off, it is not long before they return ready to strut their stuff.

"As long as they can't see you moving in the blind they pretty much ignore it," he said.

This year, he said, the grass was shorter than usual which helped him get some good close-up shots.

"There were about 40 birds at this lek," Barlow said, referring to the name applied to the spot where birds are known to mate. "When the females are in there with them, they put on a pretty good show."

Barlow said the males can also get rather fierce as the mating season progresses.

"Some of the birds have scars and marks on them, from fighting," he said. "They jump at each other and grab a hold with their feet and beaks. Usually a few feathers get ripped out." 

Barlow has been taking wildlife photographs for years and said he especially enjoys taking pictures of the grouse.

"They're always active," he said. "With the sharp-tails it's always action-packed."

He said the lek has been in use by the birds for as long as he can remember.

With files from CBC's The Afternoon Edition


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