Greater Sage-grouse

The Greater Sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) is the largest species of grouse found in North America. It occurs in the western United States and in Canada in southern Alberta and southern Saskatchewan. Its habitat is semiarid country sagebrush. Though this species is not considered endangered by the IUCN, its range has shrunk and it no longer exists in British Columbia, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arizona and New Mexico. This bird is a permanent resident in its range, though some birds move to lower elevations in winter.

Adults have a long, pointed tail and feathered legs. Adult Males have a yellow patch over the eye, are grayish on top with a white breast. The throat is dark brown and the belly is black. Two yellowish sacs on the neck are inflated during courtship display. The adult female is mottled gray-brown with light brown throat and dark belly.

The Greater Sage-grouse forages on the ground. Its main source of food is sagebrush, but it will also take in insects and other plants. Unlike other species of grouse, they cannot digest seeds. Their nest is on the ground under sagebrush or on grassy patches. These birds have elaborate courtship rituals. Each spring males congregate in leks (open areas adjacent to dense sagebrush stands) and perform a “strutting display”. They perform for several hours in the early morning and evening during the spring months. Groups of females observe these displays and select the most attractive males to mate with.