The Lost Bird Project | Film

Sage Grouse

Priority Species

Sage Grouse

The Greater Sage-Grouse is a large, ground-dwelling bird that inhabits the open sagebrush plains found predominantly in Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, eastern Oregon and Montana. It is the largest grouse species in North America.

The species is well-known for the males’ elaborate courtship displays.  A displaying male will fan its tail and inflate yellowish-green air sacs in the neck and breast.  Males make a bubbling sound during courtship. 

The Greater Sage-Grouse is entirely dependent on sagebrush habitats for successful reproduction and winter survival.  Soft sagebrush leaves make up as much as 99% of the adult birds’ winter diet. Hens build their nests under the protective cover of sagebrush.  

The Greater Sage-Grouse has experienced significant population declines over the last fifty years, making it a candidate for protection under the Endangered Species Act. Once numbering in the millions in the West, the population has significantly declined from historic numbers by as much as 93%. As the West developed, its habitat was fenced, paved over by towns, plowed under for crops, and most recently is being lost to oil and gas development. Other threats include: invasive species, disease, mining, livestock grazing, hunting, fire, and climate change.