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News & Releases
Mountain-Prairie Region


Shed Feathers Promise New Insights Into Sage-grouse Populations

July 17, 2014

Sage-grouse. Credit:  T. Gettelman
Sage-grouse. Credit: T. Gettelman

Feathers fly each spring when male greater sage-grouse square off on the lek. The lost plumage may matter little to the birds, but the genetic material in these feathers is giving researchers an opportunity to gain powerful new insights into the secret lives of these iconic sagebrush birds. 

This spring, a research team began collecting feathers from more than 7,000 leks spread across 11 Western states and two Canadian provinces. The genetic information in the feathers should greatly improve our knowledge of sage-grouse genetics, which are not well-understood across the bird's 259,000 square-mile range. More importantly, the techniques being used should reveal information about sage-grouse movement patterns and population structure that would be extremely helpful for land use managers looking to identify critically important habitat and promising areas for restoration.

– FWS –

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Office of External Affairs

Mountain-Prairie Region

134 Union Blvd

Lakewood, CO 80228


303-236-3815 FAX



Office of External Affairs
(303) 236-0345

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The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with Others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American People.
Last modified: July 17, 2014
All Images Credit to and Courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Unless Specified Otherwise.
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