The sage grouse looks funny. It's also really important.
The mating ritual of the sage grouse is one of nature's most bizarre and alluring performances. It's also very predictable, which makes the bird really easy to count. That's part of why the sage grouse is what's known as an indicator species, meaning that its survival tends to correlate with the health of its entire ecosystem. It's also why the sage grouse was recently the target of one of the largest conservation efforts in US history. And it means that if we lose the sage grouse, there's a good chance we'll have lost a lot of the other 350 plant and animal species that live in the American west, too.
A previous version of this video misidentified the bird at 0:58. The error has been corrected.
Read about the Audobon Society's conservation efforts around the sage grouse: https://www.audubon.org/conservation/issues/greater-sage-grouse#
More on the sage grouse's precarious situation:
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