Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Wildlife Watch: Fox and Grouse

by Anita Mae Draper

A few weeks ago my husband mentioned that he'd like to have a camera with a zoom lens like mine in case he saw something interesting while he was out and about. Since I'd upgraded to a Nikon CoolPix P520, I gave him my P500 to try out. It's a great camera, but not quite the same zoom length.

I really like the images he's bringing back. So between the two of us we're cataloging quite an array of Saskatchewan wildlife. We've even started a little photo competition where we post what we consider our best shots of the day. (They're posted on my Draper's Acres blog as well as Facebook.)

Along with our photos, we made some videos and that's what I'd like to show you today... like the morning I looked out my living room window and saw a Red Fox on my lawn. If you don't see it below, check it out on YouTube. (Squeamish? Note: Fox eats small animal)

Red Fox Visit Apr 18, 2016:

Now that I'm having my morning coffee on my front patio, I'm seeing all kinds of birds that I recognize, and many tweets, chirps, and tunes that I don't.

This next video was a real surprise however, because I'd never see anything like it. The farmer who rents our undulating land had only planted the field yesterday and while I was sitting there enjoying the sun this morning, I saw 3 white spots come barreling over one of the hills. I zoomed in and saw a Sharp-Tailed Grouse trio with the two females being chasing a male if full display mode, ie with his head down, wings out, and his yellow eye patches and purple neck sac flaring. You see, he's courting the ladies and when he beats his feet on the ground and runs after them he reminds me of a crab. You can see it below or on YouTube.

Sharp-tailed Grouse Stalking Sequence

The male in my video looks like the one in this photo that I found on Wikipedia. Can you see the flared yellow eye patches and the purple neck sac? His pointed tail confirms he's a Sharp-Tailed Grouse.

Sharp-Tailed Grouse. Photo Credit: Rick Bohn. Courtesy of Wikipedia

On May 3rd Nelson managed to capture this great shot of a male Sharp-Tailed Grouse who wasn't displaying...

Grouse are territorial and along with the males displaying to attract females, they also do it to scare/fight off challengers.

This next video of 3 males facing off was taken by Nelson on a windy day. The grouse are kind of hard to see, but it's a great example of them challenging for the top grouse position. If you can't see it below, check YouTube.

Sharp-Tailed Grouse Males Displaying

When I first watched the completed videos of these grouse, I was very disappointed because of the blocky quality. However, my teenager showed me that my YouTube setting was on Auto and that I could change the quality. When I put it on 480p I had to wait longer for it to load, but the video was much better. So very glad he told me that because I've since found out that I can see so much better on websites that have birdcams and animalcams when I change the quality setting.

I wish the videos were better, but if we tried to get closer to the grouse they would have flown, so we're thankful for what we did get. This year is the first time I've witnessed these birds in action and I think they're very fun to watch.

Do you have any memories or thoughts on the Sharp-Trailed Grouse and it's display? What about an encounter with a fox or other wildlife?


Anita Mae Draper's stories are written under the western skies where she lives on the prairie of southeast Saskatchewan with her hubby of 30 plus years and the youngest of their four kids. When she's not writing, Anita enjoys photography, research, and travel, and is especially happy when she can combine the three in one trip. Anita's current release is Romantic Refinements, a novella in Austen in Austin Volume 1, WhiteFire Publishing, January 2016.  Anita is represented by Mary Keeley of Books & Such Literary Management. You can find Anita Mae at


  1. What a fun post! I love how you share the wildlife outside your window. You are blessed to be surrounded by so much wonder.

    In my neck of the woods, we have endangered San Joaquin kit foxes. Despite them being endangered, it seems like they are everywhere around here. My parents, who live a few hours' drive from me, see small gray foxes in their backyard, but I am not sure what type they are.

    1. Kit foxes... aren't they the ones with huge ears?

      At first I thought it was a coyote on the lawn because it was big, and they come around here, but Nelson said it was a fox due to its long, fluffy tail and pointed nose. Then I thought it was a gray fox because of its whitish color, but there aren't any gray foxes in these parts, and their tails are black-tipped instead of white.

      And you, my dear, are blessed to have hummingbird nest(s) on your patio. Did they return this year?

  2. Grouse are apparently a thing of the past (if ever here) but of course, we're not prairie by a long shot. I'd love to see them. Will trade you some blue herons? (you'll need some ponds!)

    Yesterday I'm pretty sure I saw two wolves. I studied photos of wolves and coyotes, to be sure, and I'm sticking with my story. That was quite a surprise. Oh, and glad you found out a way to work with your videos, Anita! Thanks for sharing!

    1. You're welcome, Deb. There seem to be lots of grouse here, but the Lesser Prairie Chicken hasn't been seen in Saskatchewan for 20 yrs or so.

      Wolves - yes, I believe it. Watch out!

      Thanks for offer of Blue Heron but Nelson's been getting some good ones and I had some last year. Nice to know you have them though.

      Thanks for visiting.


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