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BLM>Idaho>Learn & Discover>Nature>Sage-grouse
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Sensitive Species

sage-grouse closeup, head and shouldersGreater Sage-grouse

The greater sage-grouse is a large, round-winged, ground-dwelling bird. It can grow up to 30 inches long and two feet tall, weighing from 2½ to 7 pounds. It has a long, pointed tail with legs feathered to the base of the toes. 

Females are mottled brown, black, and white. Males are larger and, in spring, they have a large white ruff around their necks, a yellow eye comb, and bright yellow air sacs on their breasts, which they inflate to show off to females.

Males have a black throat. The feathers on the back, wings, and tail are mostly brown, with some white and black spots. Both sexes have black bellies outlined with white. 

Dubois Grouse Days April 26-27! 

Sage-grouse live in 11 Western States and two Canadian provinces in sagebrush-steppe habitats between 4,000 and 9,000 elevation.

More than half of the birds' habitat is on public land, and most of that is managed by the BLM.

One of the most unique characteristics of the greater sage-grouse is the ritual used for mating. A lek is a flat, open place where males gather for the purpose of competitive display (strutting) and mating.

male sage-grouse in display

Males commonly roost overnight near the lek, and before sunrise, will move to the lek and display. | VIDEO This will continue for a couple of hours following sunrise, March through May.

Since the Lewis and Clark Expedition first recorded seeing the sage-grouse more than 200 years ago, the species has experienced a great decline in population. Fragmentation (breaking a large area up into several unconnected areas) of sagebrush habitats from a number of sources is the main cause of the decline in sage-grouse populations. In 2010, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service determined that the sage-grouse should be listed as endangered.

Sage-grouse SOS

sage-grouse drawing graphicThe BLM is planning for sage-grouse conservation across the West, in hopes of keeping the sage-grouse off the endangered species list.

Eagle Scout candidate Wes Burgener

In Idaho Falls, an Eagle Scout project conserves crucial habitat.

sage-grouse eggs in the nest

Sage-grouse reproduce by laying eggs. Female sage-grouse (hens)   lay 2 eggs in 3 days' time. Each nest can have 7-9 eggs. Inside the eggs, chicks grow (incubate) for 28 days before they hatch.

LEARN MORE | Download "Seriously Sage-Grouse" activity

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Herbivore Mammals

Pygmy rabbit
Desert cottontail
Eastern gray squirrel
Red squirrel
Deer mouse
Kangaroo rat
Meadow vole
Mule deer
Bighorn sheep
American pronghorn

Carnivore Mammals

American badger
River otter
Red fox
Long-tailed weasel
Grizzly bear
Mountain lion



Long-toed salamander
Idaho giant salamander
Coeur d'Alene salamander

Frogs and Toads

American bullfrog
Columbia spotted frog
Western toad
Northern leopard frog
Pacific tree frog
Great Basin spadefoot



Painted turtle
Northern alligator lizard
Mohave black-collared lizard
Short-horned lizard
Desert horned lizard
Sagebrush lizard
Western fence lizard
Western skink
Side-blotched lizard
Longnosed leopard lizard
Western whiptail


Western pipistrelle
Western small-footed myotis
Little brown bat
Yuma myotis
Townsend's big-eared bat
Hoary bat
Silver-haired bat
Fringed myotis
Pallid bat

Sensitive Species (not a complete list)

Greater sage-grouse
Pygmy rabbit
No. Idaho ground squirrel
So. Idaho ground squirrel
Canada lynx
Grizzly bear
Selkirk Mtns. woodland caribou
Kootenai White River sturgeon
Bull trout
Sockeye salmon
Chinook salmon
Steelhead trout
Yellow-billed cuckoo