Unknown to many travelers and tourists is the dirt road west of Ridgway, Colorado, that cuts across from Dallas Divide to Telluride… Last Dollar Road. Well kept, but bumpier the further along you go - and sometimes downright greasy muddy! – this road takes you only a short distance before spilling out onto a pastoral area with the Last Dollar Ranch entrance on the left. This place holds a key spot in the ranching history of Ridgway and Telluride. The best article I’ve ever read on the ranch was researched and written by Vince Kontny. You can see that article, along with some spectacular photos, here.
We came across this female dusky grouse while wandering around up near Moonshine Park, which is just below the easternmost end of the Sneffels Range. I saw her before I heard her, and when she didn’t immediately take flight, I knew something was up. She started making a soft cooing sound, and we saw blades of grass moving all around us, but… we couldn’t see what was moving them. Stopping dead still, we realized that we were surrounded by her babies! She was waiting on them and calling them to her! Such an emotional few minutes… one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments.
Grouse chicks are precocial, meaning they are able to walk and feed themselves as soon as they hatch. It’s very likely that these chicks hatched that very morning. Nature is amazing!