The Greater Sage-Grouse is North America’s largest grouse. This species is highly dependent on sagebrush grasslands throughout its life cycle and is restricted to 16 Midwestern States. A very small population subsists in the extreme south of the Canadian Prairies, but it is close to extinction. The population declined by 67% since 1970 and this rapid decline is the main reason why the species is listed on the Yellow Watch list.
Sagebrush ecosystems are large, relatively dry grasslands characterized by sparse vegetation and sage brush. During the breeding season, males will form leks and display “against” one another in order to attract females. The lekking behavior of the Greater Sage-Grouse is spectacular. Males perform what is called a “Strutting Display” during which they dance and call vigorously.
Because of their high dependence on a certain habitat type, Greater Sage-Grouse are vulnerable to habitat degradation due to agriculture practices, pesticides and disturbance by humans, particularly during lekking and nesting seasons.
Conservation efforts must focus on maintaining natural sagebrush habitat, and working with local communities, such as farmers, to adopt practices that are Sage-Grouse-friendly, limit disturbance, and reduce exposure to pesticides and contaminants. As Greater Sage-grouse is a game species in some areas, the hunter community also plays an important role in managing and conserving healthy Greater Sage-Grouse populations.
Primary Habitats:Breeding: Sagebrush
Breeding: Energy/Resource Extraction, Changing Rangeland Conditions, Disease, Agricultural Conversion, Climate Change
Wintering: Energy/Resource Extraction, Changing Rangeland Conditions, Disease, Agricultural Conversion, Climate Change
Population Loss Since 1970: 67%
Urgency/Half Life: > 40
Global Conservation Status: IUCN 2019-1 – Near Threatened
U.S. Conservation Status: N/A
Canadian Conservation Status: Endangered (SARA)
Birds of Conservation Concern: USFWS – Bird of Conservation Concern
|Region||Area Importance||Long-term Population Change||Half Life|
|Intermountain West Joint Venture||73%||-63%||***|
|Northern Great Plains Joint Venture||17%||-96%||***|
*** indicates insufficient or unreliable data to calculate a regional long-term change or half-life estimate.
Participate in the Sage Grouse Initiative
As a landowner:
- Limit off-road vehicle use in sagebrush habitat
- Adopt Sage-grouse-friendly livestock management practices
Support the Partnership to conserve sagebrush rangelands:
- Remove expanding conifers
- Reduce the risk of wildfire and invasive weeds
- Restore and enhance wet meadows and riparian areas
Apply Sage-Grouse and Pygmy Rabbit Habitat Best Management Practices (2008)
Species Conservation Plans:
USFWS Greater Sage-Grouse Conservation Website
Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Greater Sage-Grouse Website
Northwest Colorado Greater Sage-Grouse Conservation Plan (2008)
Key Species References:
Peer Reviewed Papers:
Manier et al. (2014). USGS Conservation Buffer Distance estimates for Greater Sage-Grouse.
Ramey et al. (2018). Local and population-level responses of Greater Sage-Grouse to oil and gas development and climatic variation in Wyoming. PeerJ 6:e5417
Blomberg et al. (2014). Characteristics of climate and landscape disturbance influence the dynamics of Greater Sage-Grouse populations. Ecosphere. 3(6):55.
Birds of North America (BNA) Species Account