Matt Holloran has been studying Greater Sage-Grouse for more than 20 years, assessing how oil and gas extraction affects them. His favorite lek, or mating site, is an important place for Matt. He and his wife met here doing research. They named their first daughter Sage. Over the years, he’s seen the number of grouse at this lek decline. “It's almost like you're documenting the demise of a species in a given spot,” he says.
[Learn more about this troubled bird on Grouse from BirdNote Presents.]
An Annual Trek to a Lek
Written by Ashley Ahearn
Ashley Ahearn: This is BirdNote.
Matt Holloran has been studying sage-grouse for more than 20 years — and trying to assess how oil and gas extraction affects the birds. We visit his favorite lek, or mating site, not far from Pinedale, Wyoming.
[Truck stops, door opens, footsteps in the quiet.]
AA: HA! I hear them Matt.
Matt: You can hear them.
AA: The bubbling.
Matt: Yeah. See the, kind of where there’s that clearing on the side of the hill.
Matt: That’s where they all are, down on the bottom right-hand side of the clearing over there….
AA: Oh my god that sound.
[Audio from Speedway lek]
This is an important place for Matt. He and his wife, Allison, met here trapping birds in the mid-’90s for their masters and PhD research. They named their first daughter Sage.
Ahearn On Tape 16:42 Is there something comforting about coming back to these birds every year and that they're still here doing their thing, no matter what's been going on in your life, wherever you are?
MH: Yeah. Yeah, there is. It's comforting and it's also, ... I mean … it's almost like you're documenting the demise of a species in a given spot.
AA: Matt’s found that oil and gas extraction is forcing some sage-grouse to relocate -- or abandon their traditional leks.
MH: The leks that were within the gas field proper declined precipitously.
AA: Learn more about this bird and the challenges it’s facing on our new series, Grouse. Subscribe to BirdNote Presents in your podcast app, or listen at BirdNote.org. I’m Ashley Ahearn.
Sounds recorded by Ashley Ahearn
Producer: John Kessler
Production Manager: Allison Wilson
Editor: Ashley Ahearn
Producer: Mark Bramhill
Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone
BirdNote’s theme was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
© 2020 BirdNote October 2020 Narrator: Ashley Ahearn
ID# GRSG-08-2020-10-13 GRSG-08