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:

spreading branch form
A spreading branch form of sagebrush

 Shrub Structure

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.   




Example of desirable sage-brush height


Shrub Height

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
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.

Unproductive sagebrush habitat
This stiff sagebrush site is unproductive for nesting based on sagebrush height requirements for sage-grouse









Poor grass and forb understory

This sagebrush habitat lacks enough grass and forb cover to support sage-grouse









Productive grass and forb cover
This area has enough understory and spread-growth sagebrush to be ideal sage-grouse habitat