New: Researchers show 86% of sage grouse hens avoided nesting near conifers!

New study shows that taking out conifers in high-quality sagebrush areas helps nesting sage grouse.

With the help of many partners, the Sage Grouse Initiative (SGI) has sped up the mechanical removal of junipers from in and around sage grouse habitat in the Western United States.  Studies replicated in Northern Utah and Southern Oregon now show the excellent response sage grouse to this habitat treatment and ecosystem restoration efforts.

Contrary to the conventional wisdom regarding sage grouse nesting practices (that they use the same place, year after year), hens that lost habitat in Oregon quickly returned mechanically restored areas - only made available after the conifers had been removed.  In just four years, 29% of the grouse in the study had moved to nesting inside or near the restored areas.  In Utah, it was observed that 86% of the tracked hens avoided conifer areas.  These Utah birds within the restored habitats were then more likely to raise a brood of sage grouse chicks than their counterparts near conifers.

The removal of invading conifers from prime habitat really helps nesting sage grouse.

The data provided by these recent studies show that large-scale (at the landscape level) removal of conifers can dramatically increase the ability of sage grouse to thrive in their habitat.  The grouse recognize proper habitat for nesting as soon as they see it.  The research shows that cooperative sagebrush rangeland restoration work benefits sage grouse - and quickly.

Hannah Ryan