Channing Sargent
Updated Mar 07, 2017 @ 4:31 am
Credit: PatricelliLab/

The Greater Sage-Grouse is the largest grouse in North America. Yes, we said “grouse.” The bird’s mating dance is every bit as awkward as its name.

Males of the species are notorious for gathering to engage in a bizarre and dramatic display. They strut and thrust and bulge out their chests to attract female mates. The way they swell their neck sacs is fairly reminiscent of some human mating dances. Neck twerking, anyone?

The ground upon which they gather is called a “lek.”

Each spring, male grouse assemble on the lek to show off, and females gather to gawk at them.

Unfortunately, the bird is nearing endangered status. It lives in the sagebrush ecosystem of the Western United States. However, Loss of land has reduced their numbers significantly. Conservationists, in an effort to halt the animal’s disappearance, have shown an increased interest in its mating rituals.

Science Friday created a gorgeous short film that really features the grouse’s weird dance.

Gail Patricelli, associate professor in the Department of Evolution and Ecology at UC Davis, created a remote-controlled, camera-equipped, sage-grouse fembot to better study how females of the species experience male strutting displays.

The fembot runs around on wheels, which makes for the cutest fake bird we’ve ever seen.

We almost want one. Not sure we’d ever want a strutting malebot, though, if ever there is one.