These are the hens of the northern prairies, the Greater sage-grouse. The photo above is a Sage hen with her young. NumberOneSon swathed the area around our houses today and guess who had been hiding in the tall, tall grass? This hen and her four chicks. Every year about this time, sage-grouse show up around our yard and in a nearby alfalfa field. Sage-grouse nest in sage brush areas and brood their chicks there, but when the chicks are old enough, they travel from the dry sagebrush areas and come down near us and eat whatever they like -- soft, green alfalfa seeds and other forbs. The main diet of the sage-grouse is sage brush seeds, but they will also forage on other types of seeds, plants, and insects. Today JJo and I watched them walking through the yard nibbling from the ground. The grouse fly, but prefer to walk like chickens. At one point the chicks got separated from their mother when the guys drove by. It startled some of them and they flew, but the sweet low cluck of the nearby mother and the higher pitched muffles of the chicks brought them all back together again. The breeding ground of the sage-grouse is called a lek. We really don't have any leks that I know of on our ranch, but I have seen the Greater Sage-grouse strut-dance one time. I was far off, but it was amazing to see and hear. Below is the mating dance of the male during breeding time.
We love our prairie hens and chicks.