Let’s take a look at what the males are doing. They seem to be just randomly out there but each of the males is defending a little territory. It’s his turf for displaying. Let’s zoom in on just one and see what he’s doing out there. He’s displaying on this little patch of dirt that he calls his own and he’s dead set on no one else using it. And then, his neighbor starts to walk over. Here he comes charging up to the boundary. Here they start facing past each other. This is sort of a classic stance at a territorial boundary. They’re reinforcing the boundary with their behavior and they’re jockeying to see if they’re gonna go ahead and fight. Now these two males know each other very well. They’ve done this hundreds of times by now probably in the same exact spot but only sometimes do they actually fight. Often they just get in this posture and squawk back and forth at each other. And what’s funny to watch is most the time they’ll walk away like that; they’ll just turn their back and start to walk away and then he sees something in his neighbor’s posture and he’s drawn back into the boundary–oop Saw an opening– took a punch. I call it a punch but they’re really hitting each other with their wrist–that’s the front part in their wing there–trying to gain an advantage and then they’re locked in that facing past display, again– Oop– whack– Lots of posturing– They’ll do this dozens of times a day. They’re really exhausting each other, seeing who can deal with it. The best of the males are the ones who can do that every day and still be there on the day the females show up. Ready to go, ready to rumble, and ready to display.

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Neighbor males face off at their territorial boundary with intense posturing. Find out why these sage-grouse standoffs sometimes escalate into full-blown fights.

Climb into a blind with biologist Marc Dantzker to get a first hand look at the drama that unfolds each year on a Greater Sage-Grouse lek.