New Hampshire PBS
   share this page
Home     About     Watch     Nature Files     Teachers     Order DVD     Contact

Greater Sage Grouse - Centrocercus urophasianus

Ruffed grouseCharacteristics
Life Cycle


 Phylum: Chordata
 Class: Aves
 Order: Galliformes
 Family: Phasianidae
 Genus:  Centrocercus 

Greater Sage Grouse
ICUN Redlist - World Status: Near Threatened Near Threatened
    Audio Credit: Andrew Spencer cc logo

Greater Sage GrouseThe greater sage grouse is the largest North American grouse species. They are 19-30 inches in length and two feet tall. Males are larger than females. Both the male and female greater sage grouse are brownish-gray with gray and white speckles. They have a black belly, a yellow comb over their eyes, and a long tail with stiff pointed feathers.

Greater Sage GrouseThe male has a black bib on his throat, and a white chest. He also has yellowish air sacs on his breast that  push his neck and chest feathers up when the air sacs are inflated.


mapThe greater sage grouse can be found from southern Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada south to California, Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico. The greater sage grouse population has shrunk due to habitat loss and fragmentation, and it is a candidate for Endangered Species Act Protection by US Fish and Wildlife.

Greater Sage GrouseThe sage grouse makes its home on open plains and sagebrush plains.


Greater Sage GrouseIn the winter, most of the sage grouse's diet is made up of the leaves and shoots of the sagebrush. In the spring, it also eats weeds and grasses.


  Life Cycle

Greater Sage GrouseDuring mating season, male sage grouses gather on a lek or a special display area. While they are there, they strut and display their plumage to attract a mate. The female lays six to nine eggs in a depression in the ground lined with grass. The nest is usually under a bush or other cover. The female incubates and cares for the chicks.

Greater Sage GrouseThe chicks hatch in about three weeks and feed themselves soon after hatching. They eat insects for the first few weeks but soon move on to weeds, grasses and sagebrush. The chicks fledge in about a week.


The sage grouse doesn't have a muscular gizzard with grit in it and they can't digest hard foods like seeds.