Greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus)

Federal Register | Recovery | Critical Habitat | Conservation Plans | Petitions | Life History

Listing Status:   

General Information

The Greater Sage-Grouse is a large grouse with a chunky, round body, small head, and long tail. Males change shape dramatically when they display, becoming almost spherical as they puff up their chest, droop their wings, and fan their tail into a starburst. Sage-Grouse are mottled gray-brown with a black belly. Males have a black head and throat. The breast has a fluffy white ruff that, during displays, surrounds a pair of inflatable, yellow air sacs. Females have a dusky cheek patch emphasized by white markings behind the eye.

References cited in Species Profile

  • Connelly, J. W., H. W. Browers, and R. J. Gates. 1988. Seasonal movements of Sage Grouse in southeastern Idaho. J. Wildl. Manage. 52:116-122.
  • Cornell Lab of Ornithology. 2015. Great Sage-Grouse. All About Birds. http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Greater_Sage-Grouse/id
  • Eng, R. L. and P. Schladweiler. 1972. Sage Grouse winter movements and habitat use in central Montana. J. Wildl. Manage. 36:141-146.
  • Girard, G. L. 1937. Life history, habits and food of the Sage Grouse, Centrocercus urophasianus Bonaparte. Univ. Wyoming, Laramie. Publ. 3.
  • Hagen, C. 2011. Sage-Grouse Conservation Assessment and Strategy for Oregon. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
  • Rasmussen, D. I. and L. A. Griner. 1938. Life history and management studies of the Sage Grouse in Utah, with special reference to nesting and feeding habits. Trans. North Am. Wildl. Conf. 3:852-864.
  • Wallestad, R. O. 1975. Life history and habitat requirements of Sage Grouse in central Montana. Montana Dep. Fish, Game, and Parks, Helena.

Population detail

The FWS is currently monitoring the following populations of the Greater sage-grouse 

  • Population location: Columbia basin DPS, WA

    Listing status:  Resolved Taxon

    • States/US Territories in which this population is known to or is believed to occur:  Washington
    • US Counties in which this population is known to or is believed to occur:  View All
    • USFWS Refuges in which this population is known to occur:  Clear Lake National Wildlife Refuge
    • Additional species information
  • Population location: Bi-State

    Listing status:  Resolved Taxon

    • States/US Territories in which this population is known to or is believed to occur:  California , Nevada
    • US Counties in which this population is known to or is believed to occur:  View All
    • Countries in which the this population is known to occur:  United States
    • Additional species information
  • Population location: Western subspecies

    Listing status:  Resolved Taxon

  • Population location: Wherever found

    Listing status:  Resolved Taxon

    • States/US Territories in which this population is known to or is believed to occur:  California , Colorado , Idaho , Montana , Nevada , North Dakota , Oregon , South Dakota , Utah , Washington , Wyoming
    • US Counties in which this population is known to or is believed to occur:  View All
    • USFWS Refuges in which this population is known to occur:  Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge, Benton Lake Wetland Management District, Black Coulee National Wildlife Refuge, Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge, Bowdoin Wetland Management District  ... Show All Refuges
    • Countries in which the this population is known to occur:  Canada
    • Additional species information
 
Current Listing Status Summary
Status Date Listed Lead Region Where Listed
Pacific Region (Region 1) Columbia basin DPS
California/Nevada Region (Region 8) Bi-State
Pacific Region (Region 1) Western subspecies
Mountain-Prairie Region (Region 6) Wherever found

» Federal Register Documents

Federal Register Documents
Date Citation Page Title
04/08/2014 79 FR 19314 19315 Threatened Status for the Bi-State Distinct Population Segment of Greater Sage-Grouse With Special Rule and Designation of Critical Habitat
12/10/2008 73 FR 75176 75244 Review of Native Species That Are Candidates for Listing as Endangered or Threatened; Annual Notice of Findings on Resubmitted Petitions; Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions; Proposed Rule
12/26/2002 67 FR 78811 78815 90-Day Finding on a Petition To List the Mono Basin Area Sage Grouse as Endangered: Notice of petition finding, Not Substantial
08/05/2014 79 FR 45420 45421 Threatened Status for the Bi-State Distinct Population Segment of Greater Sage-Grouse With Special Rule; Proposed rule; reopening of the comment period.
05/04/2004 69 FR 24876 24904 Review of Species That Are Candidates or Proposed for Listing as Endangered or Threatened; Annual Notice of Findings on Resubmitted Petitions; Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions
03/23/2010 75 FR 13910 14014 12-Month Findings for Petitions to List the Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) as Threatened or Endangered: Notice of 12-month petition findings.
12/02/2014 79 FR 71444 71446 Draft Programmatic Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances and Receipt of Applications for Enhancement of Survival Permits for the Greater Sage-Grouse in Oregon; and Draft Environmental Assessment
12/05/2014 79 FR 72449 72497 Review of Native Species That Are Candidates for Listing as Endangered or Threatened; Annual Notice of Findings on Resubmitted Petitions; Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions
06/03/2014 79 FR 31901 31907 Designation of Critical Habitat for the Bi-State Distinct Population Segment of Greater Sage-Grouse
01/06/1989 54 FR 554 579 ETWP; Animal Notice of Review; 54 FR 554 579
02/23/2015 80 FR 9475 9477 Draft Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances, Receipt of Application for an Enhancement of Survival Permit for the Greater Sage-Grouse on Oregon Department of State Lands, and Draft Environmental Assessment
10/02/2015 80 FR 59857 59942 12-Month Finding on a Petition To List Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) as an Endangered or Threatened Species; Proposed Rule
08/24/2000 65 FR 51578 51584 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-day Finding and Commencement of Status Review for a Petition To List the Western Sage Grouse in Washington as Threatened or Endangered
11/21/1991 56 FR 58804 58836 ETWP; Animal Candidate Review for Listing as Endangered or Threatened Species; 56 FR 58804 58836
10/28/2013 78 FR 64357 64384 Threatened Status for the Bi-State Distinct Population Segment of Greater Sage-Grouse With Special Rule; Proposed Rule
04/29/2008 73 FR 23170 23172 90-Day Finding on a Petition to List the Western Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus phaios) as Threatened or Endangered
12/06/2007 72 FR 69034 69106 Review of Native Species That Are Candidates for Listing as Endangered or Threatened; Annual Notice of Findings on Resubmitted Petitions; Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions; Proposed Rule
12/19/2006 71 FR 76058 76079 90-Day Finding on Petitions to List the Mono Basin Area Population of the Greater Sage-Grouse as Threatened or Endangered
12/20/2013 78 FR 77087 77089 Threatened Status for the Bi-State Distinct Population Segment of Greater Sage-Grouse With Special Rule and Designation of Critical Habitat
02/07/2003 68 FR 6500 6504 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-day Finding on a Petition To List the Western Sage Grouse: petition does not present substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing this subspecies may be warranted
10/26/2011 76 FR 66370 66439 Review of Native Species That Are Candidates for Listing as Endangered or Threatened; Annual Notice of Findings on Resubmitted Petitions; Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions
10/30/2001 66 FR 54808 54832 ETWP; Review of Plant and Animal Species That Are Candidates or Proposed for Listing as Endangered or Threatened,Annual Notice of Findings on Recycled Petitions, and Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions; Proposed Rule
09/12/2006 71 FR 53756 53835 Review of Native Species That Are Candidates or Proposed for Listing as Endangered or Threatened; Annual Notice of Findings on Resubmitted Petitions; Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions
07/23/2009 74 FR 36502 36503 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Permit Application; Greater Sage-Grouse; Washington, Adams, Gem, and Payette Counties, Idaho
04/10/2015 80 FR 19341 19341 Draft Candidate Conservation Agreement With Assurances, Receipt of Application for an Enhancement of Survival Permit for the Greater Sage-Grouse on Oregon Department of State Lands, and Draft Environmental Assessment; Reopening of Comment Period
05/07/2001 66 FR 22984 22994 ETWP; 12-month Finding for a Petition to List the Washington Population of Western Sage Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus phaios}
05/11/2005 70 FR 24870 24934 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Review of Native Species That Are Candidates or Proposed for Listing as Endangered or Threatened; Annual Notice of Findings on Resubmitted Petitions; Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions; Proposed Rule
08/15/2014 79 FR 48243 48244 Draft Candidate Conservation Agreement With Assurances and Receipt of Application for an Enhancement of Survival Permit for the Greater Sage-Grouse on Private Rangelands, Baker and Malheur Counties, Oregon
11/09/2009 74 FR 57804 57878 Review of Native Species That Are Candidates for Listing as Endangered or Threatened; Annual Notice of Findings on Resubmitted Petitions; Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions
06/13/2002 67 FR 40657 40679 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Review of Species That Are Candidates or Proposed for Listing as Endangered or Threatened; Annual Notice of Findings on Recycled Petitions; Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions
01/07/2004 69 FR 933 936 90-day Finding for a Petition To List the Eastern Subspecies of the Greater Sage-Grouse as Endangered: Notice of 90-day petition finding, not substantial
09/18/1985 50 FR 37958 37967 Review of Vertebrate Wildlife; Notice of Review; 50 FR 37958-37967
04/29/2008 73 FR 23173 23175 90-Day Finding on Petitions To List the Mono Basin Area Population of the Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) as Threatened or Endangered
04/23/2015 80 FR 22827 22866 Withdrawal of the Proposed Rule To List the Bi-State Distinct Population Segment of Greater Sage-Grouse and Designate Critical Habitat; Proposed rule; withdrawal.
01/09/2001 66 FR 1632 1633 Reopening of Comment Period for Status Review Addressing the Washington Population of Western Sage Grouse
02/26/2008 73 FR 10218 10219 Initiation of Status Review for the Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) as Threatened or Endangered
02/07/2013 78 FR 9066 9067 Enhancement of Survival Permit Application; Draft Greater Sage-Grouse Umbrella Candidate Conservation Agreement With Assurances for Wyoming Ranch Management, and Environmental Assessment.
10/28/2013 78 FR 64327 64355 Designation of Critical Habitat for the Bi-State Distinct Population Segment of Greater Sage-Grouse; Proposed Rule
04/29/2008 73 FR 23172 23173 Initiation of Status Review for the Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) as Threatened or Endangered - Notice; initiation of status review and solicitation of new information; extension of period for submitting information.
11/21/2012 77 FR 69993 70060 Review of Native Species That Are Candidates for Listing as Endangered or Threatened; Annual Notice of Findings on Resubmitted Petitions; Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions
12/30/1982 47 FR 58454 58460 Review of Vertebrate Wildlife for Listing as End. or Thr. Species
11/15/1994 59 FR 58982 59028 ETWP; Animal Candidate Review for Listing as Endangered or Threatened Species.
11/10/2010 75 FR 69222 69294 Review of Native Species That Are Candidates for Listing as Endangered or Threatened; Annual Notice of Findings on Resubmitted Petitions; Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions; Proposed Rule
05/09/2014 79 FR 26684 26685 Threatened Status for the Bi-State Distinct Population Segment of Greater Sage-Grouse With Special Rule and Designation of Critical Habitat
11/22/2013 77 FR 70103 70162 Review of Native Species That are Candidates for Listing as Endangered or Threatened; Annual Notice of Findings on Resubmitted Petitions; Annual Description of Progress on Listing Actions
Special Rule Publications
Date Citation Page Title
10/28/2013 78 FR 64357 64384 Threatened Status for the Bi-State Distinct Population Segment of Greater Sage-Grouse With Special Rule; Proposed Rule

» Recovery

No recovery information is available for the Greater sage-grouse.

» Critical Habitat

Date Citation Page Title Document Type Status
10/28/2013 78 FR 64327 64355 Designation of Critical Habitat for the Bi-State Distinct Population Segment of Greater Sage-Grouse; Proposed Rule Proposed Rule Proposed

To learn more about critical habitat please see http://ecos.fws.gov/crithab

» Conservation Plans

Habitat Conservation Plans (HCP) (learn more)
HCP Plan Summaries
Douglas County Multiple Species General Conservation Plan (Foster Creek Conservation District)
Candidate Conservation Agreements (CCA): (learn more)
CCA Plan Summaries
Utah Sage Grouse Conservation Plan
Western sage grouse CCA (WA)
Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances (CCAA): (learn more)
CCAA Plan Summaries
Moore CCAA
Multi-County Soil and Water Conservation Districts Programmatic CCAAs
Oregon Department of State Lands Greater Sage-grouse CCAA
West Central Programmatic Sage-Grouse CCAA
Wyoming Statewide Umbrella CCAA for the Greater Sage-grouse

» Petitions

» Life History

Habitat Requirements

Sage-grouse are emblematic of the sagebrush steppe of the intermountain West, which is their only habitat. They are widespread across the sagebrush plains but are sensitive to disturbance. In early spring they gather on patches of open ground known as leks, where males display to females. Leks are located in clear areas such as broad ridgetops, grassy swales, dry lakebeds, and sometimes recently burned areas. Adult hens lead their growing chicks to areas with good forage, including irrigated pastures, wet meadows, and alfalfa fields, in addition to sagebrush.

Food Habits

Sage-grouse eat leaves, buds, flowers, forbs, and insects. Leaves (primarily of sagebrush) dominate their diet throughout most of the year. However, in the first three weeks after hatching, chicks cannot digest sagebrush, so forbs and various insects (beetles, grasshoppers, and ants, especially) make up the bulk of their diet. Dandelions and other forbs are important for females as they prepare for egg-laying.

Movement / Home Range

The Greater Sage-Grouse breeds in western U.S., covering portions of Oregon, California, Nevada, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. They may be residents throughout the year or migrate seasonally. Movements vary dramatically because of differences associated with several factors, including seasonal habitat quality and weather.

Reproductive Strategy

Females make bowl-shaped nests scraped into the soft soil. They line them with leaves, grasses and forbs, small twigs, and feathers that the female plucks from her breast. Nests tend to have at least two directions that are not heavily vegetated, which presumably function as possible escape routes for incubating females.

Other

Habitat loss, fragmentation and alteration have resulted in population declines and in some areas local extirpation. Primary causes of habitat loss and fragmentation include the altered wildfire cycle due to the establishment non-native invasive plants, and human activities and development, such as energy development, transmission lines, and rural subdivisions. Sage-grouse numbers have likely declined since the settlement of the western U.S., with documented declines since regular monitoring of the species began in the 1950's, reflecting the widespread loss, alteration, or fragmentation of the vast sagebrush steppe that they depend on. Since the late 1960s, numbers have declined by an average of 2.3 percent per year, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Noise and human presence associated with human activities within sagebrush is also thought to result in indirect effects, including limiting habitat use, lek attendance, and reducing species productivity in affected areas. For more information about this species, including occurrence, conservation strategies and recovery actions in specific states or regions, refer to the following resource:

  • Hagen, C. 2011. Sage-Grouse Conservation Assessment and Strategy for Oregon. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. http://www.dfw.state.or.us/wildlife/sagegrouse/docs/20110422_GRSG_April_Final%2052511.pdf

    » Other Resources

    NatureServe Explorer Species Reports -- NatureServe Explorer is a source for authoritative conservation information on more than 50,000 plants, animals and ecological communtities of the U.S and Canada. NatureServe Explorer provides in-depth information on rare and endangered species, but includes common plants and animals too. NatureServe Explorer is a product of NatureServe in collaboration with the Natural Heritage Network.

    ITIS Reports -- ITIS (the Integrated Taxonomic Information System) is a source for authoritative taxonomic information on plants, animals, fungi, and microbes of North America and the world.

    FWS Digital Media Library -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Digital Library is a searchable collection of selected images, historical artifacts, audio clips, publications, and video.