26-30" (65-76 cm). Streaked gray above with dark belly and white breast. Throat black with white collar; yellow-orange eyebrow. Spike-like tail feathers that are fanned out in mating ritual. Immatures and females have mottled brown throat and breast.
Similar Species- Blue Grouse, Sharp-tailed Grouse
Male makes a bubbling pop-pop sound as air is released from air sacs during courtship ritual. Clucks like a chicken when flushed.
Previously widespread. Resident locally from central Washington, southern Idaho, Montana, and parts of southern Canada and Great Plains, south to eastern California, south-central Nevada, southern Utah, western Colorado and northern New Mexico.
Found in foothills, plains and mountain slopes where sagebrush is present, or in mixture of sagebrush, meadows, and aspen in close proximity. In some areas, suitable winter habitat is probably most limiting seasonal factor.
Feeds on sagebrush during winter. At other times of year, feeds on sagebrush as well as leaves, blossoms, and buds of associated plants. Also eats insects (e.g., ants and grasshoppers).
Builds concealed nest in depression on ground under sagebrush. Forages in foliage, or on ground. lek breeder; up to 400 males may display in area 0.8 km long. In Idaho, populations may move 0.2-81.0 km from summer to winter range. Agricltural areas are important component of summer rante; sagebrush stands are more important in winter. In Idaho study, nesting success was higher in sagebrush versus non-sagebrush sites. Other Idaho investigations by the Dept. Fish & Game are examining the impact of wildfire in shrub steppe on sage grouse.
Important State References:
Connelly, J.W., W.L. Wakkinen, A.D. Apa, and K.P. Reese. 1991. Sage grouse use of nest sites in southeastern Idaho. J. Wildl. Manage. 55:521-524.