|Conservation status||Has disappeared from about 90 percent of its former range, owing to loss and degradation of habitat. Current population is in the low thousands and probably still declining.|
|Family||Pheasants and Grouse|
|Habitat||Sagebrush plains. Found on open plains and high valleys, but only in vicinity of sagebrush. Prime nesting habitat includes some lower wet areas where young can forage for insects.|
Forages by walking on ground, browsing leaves and other plant parts, or picking up items from ground.
Usually 7-9, sometimes 6-13. Olive-buff, evenly dotted with brown. Incubation is by female only, 25-27 days. Young: Downy young leave nest shortly after hatching. Young are tended by female, but feed themselves. Able to make short flights at age of 1-2 weeks, but do not reach adult size until much later.
Downy young leave nest shortly after hatching. Young are tended by female, but feed themselves. Able to make short flights at age of 1-2 weeks, but do not reach adult size until much later.
Mostly sage leaves and buds, also insects. Diet in fall and winter may be almost entirely the leaves and fresh shoots of sagebrush. At other seasons, also eats leaves, flowers, and buds of a wide variety of plants; also some insects in summer (young eat many insects at first). Unlike most grouse, digestive system is not adapted for digesting hard seeds.
Traditional display grounds may be used for years. In courtship display, male puffs out white chest, inflates two yellow air sacs, raises and spreads tail, and raises tuft of plumes on back of head; head is thrown back as air sacs are deflated with low popping sound. Females visit display ground to mate with one of the males. Oldest and most experienced males compete for positions at center of display ground, and these males are usually chosen by females. Nest site is on ground, under sagebrush or clump of grass. Nest (built by female) is shallow depression, sparsely lined with plant material.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
Learn more about these drawings.
Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
Download Our Bird Guide App
Mainly a permanent resident, but may perform some limited local movements.
See a fully interactive migration map for over 450 bird species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsDisplaying male gives 9 or 10 hooting gobbles on one low pitch, interspersed with 3 wing noises; very different from display of Greater Sage-Grouse.
Learn more about this sound collection.