Twelve drummers drumming
#funfactfriday No need to hire a marching band to give your true love twelve drummers drumming - just head out into grouse habitat! The Okanagan is home to several species of grouse, the males of which can perform a variety of very cool drumming, popping and clapping noises as part of the mating ritual. A great example the drumming display comes from male Ruffled Grouse. He rapidly flutters and flaps his wings over and over to create pockets of low-pressure air, which makes a thrumming sound just like thunder does during a storm! Have a listen in this clip from the CBC below:
Sharp tailed Grouse fan out and rustle their tail feathers while stomping their feet very quickly over and over (think Flashdance!) and running back and forth in front of the female. Spruce Grouse do a lot of tail fanning and head bobbing, while Dusky (Blue) Grouse hoot loudly and show off two large reddish patches of skin beside their neck.
Greater Sage Grouse males perform one of the most famous grouse courtship displays. It involves making popping sounds by rapidly inflating and deflating two air sacs located on their chest. Sage Grouse form groups called 'leks' for these courtship rituals - large numbers of males will gather in an open area to perform their displays while the females stay in the safety of the underbrush to watch and evaluate their potential mates. This PBS Nature clip explains in more detail:
Greater Sage Grouse were once found in the open grassland habitat near Osoyoos, Oliver, and Keremeos, however they had completely disappeared from BC by the early 20th century, likely due to hunting and human infringement on their habitat. The same pressures are driving Sage Grouse numbers to dangerously low levels in Saskatchewan, Alberta, and most American states in which they can still be found.