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A Grouse in Hand

A Grouse in Hand
Photograph by Melissa Farlow

Poised above a ball of fluff, Idaho researcher Nathan Burkepile prepares to attach a tiny transmitter to a day-old greater sage grouse chick to track its movements. The rapid decline of sage grouse populations in the West, with chick mortality rates as high as 80 percent, have led some to label it the next spotted owl. Though the exact cause of the decline is unknown, degraded habitat—caused by drought, wildfire, exotic grasses, and excessive grazing—is a likely culprit, according to Burkepile, who is studying the chicks’ first ten weeks of life. The first two weeks appear to be the most critical. By the third week the birds can actually fly short distances to escape predators such as coyotes, foxes, and hawks.



Camera: Nikon F4
Film Type: Fujichrome Velvia 50
Lens: 105mm
Speed and F-Stop: 1/125 @ f/5.6
Weather Conditions: Alternating sun and clouds, cool
Time of Day: 11 a.m.
Lighting Techniques: Available light


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