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Grouse and Spouse

The Highland Wonders educational series kicked off 2016 with an opportunity to learn about the world of grouse breeding behavior, with an inside perspective on grouse mating systems Dr. Michael Schroeder. Mike has a Ph.D. in wildlife biology and is the upland bird research scientist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“No two species illustrate the variation in grouse mating systems more than willow ptarmigan and greater sage-grouse,” Schroeder says. “Male willow ptarmigan follow their paired females attentively throughout the breeding season while male sage-grouse attempt to mate with every female they see.” This talk explored a variety of mating systems, ranging from monogamy to extreme polygamy, and some of the breeding behavior of grouse species in Washington.

Click here to see photos from the event

Michael Schroeder releases a Sharp-tailed Grouse (Photo by Jeff Heinlen)

Dr. Schroeder is a Certified Wildlife Biologist who has pursued research and management of grouse since 1981. He joined the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) in 1992 and has continued to focus most of his activities on the biology and management of grouse. Mike is also developing a monitoring and evaluation program for WDFW wildlife areas. He has worked with graduate students from Washington State University, University of Idaho, and Eastern Washington University to address specific management issues related to grouse. For more information on his work, please visit

Mike and his wife Leslie’s research has included studies of: (1) population dynamics and behavioral ecology of greater sage-grouse and sharp-tailed grouse; (2) greater sage-grouse and sharp-tailed grouse translocations; (3) effects of wind power on greater sage-grouse and other species of shrub-steppe wildlife; (4) conservation genetics of grouse; (5) connectivity of sage-grouse and sharp-tailed grouse in the Columbia Basin; and (6) effects of farm programs on greater sage-grouse, sharp-tailed grouse, and other species of shrub-steppe wildlife.

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