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


sage-grouse closeup, head and shoulders
Greater 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!

male and female sage-grouse in profile


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 
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Northern alligator lizard 
Mohave black-collared lizard 
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Little brown bat 
Yuma myotis 
Townsend's big-eared bat 
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Silver-haired bat 
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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