I’m Marc Dantzker, a biologist at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. What you’re looking at now is a lek, specifically a Greater Sage-Grouse lek. A lek is a gathering of males on traditional breeding ground where they’re all displaying to attract mates. The males are the ones with the spiky tails. The females are out there too; they’re the smaller grayer ones. It looks like chaos, birds running around helter skelter but in reality it’s an organized, highly structured social interaction. I’m gonna walk you through it. Each and every one of those females will choose a mate but only a few of the males will be chosen. To us, all the males basically look the same. The question is how do the females choose and why are so few of the males successful.

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Meet the fanciest wild birds in North America. Male sage-grouse gather by the hundreds to strut their stuff on their high-stakes breeding grounds. It looks like chaos out there, but the high-stakes mating game of the Greater-Sage Grouse unfolds within a well-structured social scene. Learn the rules and meet the players.

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.