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Greater Sage Grouse

Scientific Name:

Centrocerus urophasianus




High desert, plains, valleys anywhere as long as sagebrush is present


Native to the Great Basin, western United States, and other parts of North America


Near Threatened (IUCN Red List); protected game bird in Nevada (NDOW)

This species is


to the Truckee Meadows.


Sage grouses can be identified by their large, straight pointed tail feathers. They are typically gray in color, and both male and female having black bellies. Female sage grouses have white feathers on their chest with black feathers on their neck, while male sage grouses have a sack or pouch type of area on their chest. This sack is used specifically during their mating ritual when trying to attract a female. Male sage grouses tend to be a little bit larger than their female counterparts, with males weighing about 4 to 7 pounds or so. Females' top weights are about 4 pounds.

Fast Facts:

  • Male sage grouses use their air sacs, located on their chests, as a means of attracting females during their courtship rituals, also known as dances.  During this “dance”, males will fill the sac with air to inflate their chest. They will also flare out their large tail feathers during their strut;

  • The area where sage grouses perform their mating dances are called “leks”.

  • Sage grouses usually try to return to the same lek each breeding season.

  • The hierarchy level of an individual male sage grouse pre-determines the size of his lek. The most dominant male has the largest, most central lek, and thus usually attracts the most female Sage Grouse females;

  • Female sage grouses will raise their brood of chicks in the spring by herself, with the typical size of brood is at least 7.

  • The nesting area will include lower wetlands, so that the young sage grouses are close to water and food sources such as insects and forbs, (flowering plants such as dandelions). Nests are usually located under sagebrush bushes to better hide.

  • Young sage grouses cannot eat sagebrush until they are at least 3 weeks old;

  • Sage grouses don’t eat nuts or seeds because, unlike many other bird species, they don’t have gizzards.

  • Other names for greater sage grouses are "Sage Hens" or "Sage Chickens".



Pam Del Porto (research & content)

Alex Shahbazi (edits & page design)

Last Updated:

March 27, 2024 at 1:48:23 AM

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