Date: 12/27/17 9:09 am From: Kerey Barnowe-Meyer <kereybm...> Subject: [inland-NW-birders] Columbian sharp-tailed grouse report from Nez Perce Co.
A biologist in our office reported seeing a Columbian sharp-tailed grouse on Sunday, 12/24/2017 near Lewiston, ID. Location was on Powers Ave./475 Road west of Mann Lake, approximately 1/10th mile east of 28th Street. He reports a solitary bird (sex unk.) standing directly in the road, allowing him and his wife to get a close look at it before it flushed northward. No reports from Nez Perce Co. in eBird, so I thought I'd put the word out.
For some interesting historical context, Maj. (then Capt.) C. Bendire, stationed at Fort Lapwai from 1868 to 1871, made a detailed study of sharp-tailed grouse in this area (see Bendire, Charles. 1892. Life histories of North American birds with special reference to their breeding habits and eggs with twelve lithographic plates. Vol. 28. Washington DC: The Smithsonian Institution):
"It is one of the most abundant and best known game birds of the Northwest, inhabiting the prairie country to be found along the foothills of the numerous mountain chains intersecting its range; seldom venturing into the wooded portions for any distance, and then only during the winter months, when it is partially migratory in certain sections....
At Fort Lapwai, Idaho, this Grouse was exceedingly common about twenty years ago, but it is much less so now. It then gathered into large packs during the late fall and winter, frequently numbering two hundred and more."
He goes on to note:
"This fine game bird is decreasing very rapidly throughout its range. It does not seem to prosper in the vicinity of man, and as the country is becoming more and more settled, it recedes before civilization. As it is not a particularly shy bird, it falls an easy victim to the gunner.
In Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, where it used to be exceedingly abundant a decade ago, it is every year becoming rarer, and at the present rate of decrease will not be long before it will be numbered among the game birds of the past, at least in all fertile portions of the country, retaining only a precarious foothold in the more sterile sections of these States where the lands are too poor and rocky to be successfully cultivated."