General Sage-Grouse Information

• Sage Grouse are North America’s largest grouse

• They are endangered at the federal and provincial (Alberta & Saskatchewan) in Canada

• They are sagebrush obligates (live in habitats dominated by big (Artemisia tridentata) or silver (Artemisia cana) sagebrush & eat primarily sagebrush during parts of the year) - Canadian birds are found associated with silver sagebrush

• Also eat forbs, insects, and berries.

• Sage-Grouse are a lekking species 

• LEK = a communal breeding ground where males go to display and females go to select a mate, breed, and then go off to raise her young on her own


Adult male Sage-Grouse - Alberta, Canada.  

• Males can be up to twice as large as females.  

• Males possess yellow to yellowish-green air sacs (pictured on the front of the bird) that are inflated during the courtship display.  This produces both a visual (see below) and audio effect (a loud 2-toned "plop" sound).  Combined with the wing swish noise that they make while displaying, the sounds most resemble a little kid running around in snow pants or corduroys and a dripping faucet. 

displaying male2(05)

Adult male Sage-Grouse in full display - Alberta, Canada.  

• This display typically occurs in Alberta from late March to May and peak female lek attendance is in the first week of April, but both are heavily dependent on the weather.

female sage-grouse(06)

Adult Female Sage-Grouse - Alberta, Canada.  

• Females are cryptic with their plumage blending into the sagebrush habitat.  

• After females breed, they find a nest site, generally near the lek, and lay 4-12 eggs (average 7-8 in Alberta).  

• Incubation is 28 days. 

• If a female's nest is destroyed, she will generally attempt to re-nest.

• Young are raised by the female alone and they are considered to have fledged at 10-12 weeks of age.

• Predators in Alberta are primarily large raptors and coyotes.  Egg predators are likely corvids, ground squirrels, and coyotes.

• Current (& past) threats to Sage-Grouse in Canada are habitat destruction (conversion of native sage steppe to agriculture), habitat fragmentation (small scale habitat conversion, roads/fences/power lines, oil & gas development), and habitat degradation ()over grazing and invasive & non-native plant species encroachment.

Reference: Schroeder, M. A., J. R. Young, and C. E. Braun. 1999. Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online:   doi:bna.425

& personal knowledge of Alberta Sage-Grouse

Contact Me ~ All pictures are copyrighted to Dr. Krissy Bird ~ Last Updated December 31, 2013