Tympanuchus phasianellus columbianus
15-20" (38-51 cm). Speckled pale brown and blackish overall, somewhat darker above than below, spotted white on wings; belly whitish, spotted dark. Central tail feathers slightly elongated with graduated white outer tail feathers. Male has violet neck sacs and longer tail than female.
Similar Species- Female Ring-necked Pheasant, Prairie-chickens, Ruffed Grouse
A low, dove-like co-coo. Also, squeaky, bubbly cackles.
Locally from Alaska, east to western Quebec, and south to eastern Washington, eastern Oregon, southern Idaho, Utah, Colorado, northeastern New Mexico (at least formerly), and parts of Midwest.
Found in grasslands (especially with scattered woodlands), arid sagebrush, brushy hills, oak savannas, and edges of riparian woodlands. Also found in upland winter wheat fields. In west-central Idaho study, grouse preferred big sagebrush to other summer cover types; mountain shrub and riparian cover types were critical components of winter habitat.
Initially, chicks eat insects and some berries. Adults eat berries, grain, leaves, buds, and flowers of wide variety of plants. In spring, fall, and winter, roughly 10% of adult bird's diet is insects (up to 40% in summer); 90% or more is plant material. In Idaho study, hawthorn fruits and buds of serviceberry and chokecherry were primary winter foods.Ecology:
Males engage in communal courtship displays. Breeding begins early April in southern/western range, to early May in north. Female incubates 10-13 eggs (usually) for 23-24 days (Idaho study reported average clutch of 10.8). Young are tended by female; brood disperses in 6-8 wk.
Marks, J.S. and V.S. Marks. 1987. Habitat selection by Columbian sharp-tailed grouse in west-central Idaho. USDI Bur. Land Manage., Boise District, U.S. Govt. Report 792-057/40, 019, Boise. 115pp.