Sage Advice

Driving through Sweetwater County, Wyoming on Interstate 80 at 75 mph at mid-day can leave you with a feeling of a pretty bleak landscape. Sagebrush is a dominant plant species in this cold-desert area.

Yet, even in this harsh dry region of the country, life exists. If fact many species are partially to completely dependent on the sagebrush community for their survival. Of course, it is hard to witness this from the comfort of your car as you barrel down the Interstate.

Three species of birds have “Sage” in their name.

One of the more well known of these birds is the Sage Grouse. These grouse are entirely dependent on sagebrush habitat for successful reproduction and winter survival. Conservation efforts are underway to protect this species from a decline in population. Invasive plant species, changing wildfire patterns, and energy development impact them.

A Greater Sage Grouse male is displaying during the Spring courtship season, vying for the attention of the females. Sony a1 + 600mm lens & 1.4x teleconverter @ 840mm, ISO 400 f/5.6, 1/3200. ©Stanley Buman.

The Sage Thrasher is a somewhat common bird in the sagebrush community. It breeds almost exclusively in dense stands of sagebrush, but it does use other habitats throughout the winter months. Its population is also on the decline for reasons similar to the Sage Grouse.

The Sage Thrashers is sometimes referred to as the mountain Mockingbird due to its song, consisting of a long melodious jumble of musical notes. Sony a1 + 600mm lens & 1.4x teleconverter @ 840mm, ISO 400 f/5.6, 1/3200. ©Stanley Buman.

As with the other species listed above, the Sagebrush Sparrow requires healthy sagebrush for successful breeding. Its population is threatened by the invasive cheatgrass, over-grazing, and habitat fragmentation.

This Sagebrush Sparrow was perched up on frosted brush early in the morning, soaking in a little sunshine. Sony a1 + 600mm lens & 1.4x teleconverter @ 840mm, ISO 400 f/5.6, 1/2000. ©Stanley Buman.

The next time you are flying across Wyoming on I-80, stop by a riparian area and see what is lurking in the sagebrush. It is tempting to hurry through what looks like a desolate desert. But life does exist.

6 thoughts on “Sage Advice”

  1. As, ALWAYS, each of the images, that you share with the viewers is fantastically beautiful!
    The research, that you do, and then share with each image, gives the viewer, extra-insight, which works to impact-the-images meaning!!!
    Thankful, I am, that you DO return SAFE, from each of your
    photo-adventures!!!
    Pam Poggensee/Mrs. Don

  2. Kathleen Engel

    Stan, your cousin Kathleen here. I love to see your photos and kudos on your play on words. You are very creative. When I look at your website it gives me a sense of peace Much needed in this crazy world. Thank you

    1. Thank you Kathleen. I am glad that my website brings you peace. No doubt you need a little peace in your hectic life. I enjoy a lot of peace while waiting to take images.

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