Sagebrush Canopy Cover
Many scientific studies have found that the most productive nesting and early brood-rearing sage-grouse habitat includes 15 to 25 percent sagebrush canopy cover. Canopy cover is kind of like an umbrella, meaning that the taller sagebrush hangs over the lower plants and ground, providing a shelter for sage-grouse. Check out the different types of canopy cover below:
A spreading branch form of sagebrush
Sagebrush plants that grow in a spread-out form, kind of like umbrellas, have branches that provide more shelter from predators. Sagebrush with fewer branches provide less cover for sage-grouse.
Sage-grouse like to have sagebrush between 15 and 30 inches tall, but can also survive in sagebrush between 12 and 30 inches tall.
Productive grass and forb cover
Nesting sage-grouse hens and their chicks also prefer a certain amount of perennial (occurring every year) grasses and forbs (flowering broad-leaved plants). Forbs and insects are very important food sources during the spring months. A healthy understory (layer of smaller plants beneath sagebrush) provides this food source and protection from predators. Sage-grouse seem to prefer grass and forbs that reach an average of 7 inches tall during the spring.