To the editor:
Sage-grouse are beautiful birds. The adults are known for their long pointed tails and feathers that reach their “toes.” The male has a white breast and black belly, grey feathers on his back, and a yellow patch above each eye; his throat is dark brown and two yellowish sacs on his neck inflate during courtship. The female is dappled grey-brown on top, with a light brown throat and dark belly.
The bird lives in a sagebrush ecosystem in the western US because its main source of food is sagebrush; it cannot digest seeds. Its mating courtship involves formation of a lek by the males. The lek consists of individual male territories within visual and auditory distance from other males. There they engage in competitve displays (lekking) to entice watching females. The birds nest on the ground under sagebrush or grass patches.
Sage grouse are already considered threatened by several national organizations because of habitat loss. But this engardered bird will soon find itself in peril of extinction. The Trump administration, that is Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, moved to amend current protection of the bird’s habitat to open up land for oil and grass drilling. “Christmas came a few weeks early this year,” Zinke said in a statement. But not for the sage grouse, Mr. Zinke.
Instead of millions of acres of a beautiful sagebrush ecosystem, oil and gas drills will cover this formerly pristine environment forever, and the magnificent sage grouse, like us, residents of the earth, will have disappeared.
Mary Lynn Kalogeras