Sharp-tailed Grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus)

Sharp-tailed Grouse

[order] GALLIFORMES | [family] Phasianidae | [latin] Tympanuchus phasianellus | [UK] Sharp-tailed Grouse | [FR] Tetras a queue fine | [DE] Schweifhuhn | [ES] Gallo de las Praderas Chico | [NL] Stekelstaarthoen


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Tympanuchus phasianellus NA nc, nw
Tympanuchus phasianellus campestris c Canada to Wisconsin (USA)
Tympanuchus phasianellus caurus Alaska (USA), nw Canada
Tympanuchus phasianellus columbianus British Columbia (Canada) to w Colorado (USA)
Tympanuchus phasianellus jamesi nc Alberta (Canada) to nc USA
Tympanuchus phasianellus kennicotti c Northwest Territory (Canada)
Tympanuchus phasianellus phasianellus c Canada

Physical charateristics

A pale, speckled brown grouse of prairie brush. Note the short pointed tail, which in flight shows white at the sides. Displaying male inflates purplish neck sacs.

Listen to the sound of Sharp-tailed Grouse

[audio: Grouse.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 56 cm wingspan max.: 68 cm
size min.: 41 cm size max.: 47 cm
incubation min.: 21 days incubation max.: 24 days
fledging min.: 1 days fledging max.: 2 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 10  
      eggs max.: 14  


North America : nc, Northwest


Prairie, brushy groves, forest edges, open burns in coniferous forest.
Prime habitat includes a mixture of open prairie with groves of deciduous trees or shrubs, such as aspen, birch, willow. Shifts habitat with season, occupying more open grasslands in summer, groves of trees and shrubs in winter.


In early mornings in spring on display ground, male points tail up, spreads wings, holds head low, stamps feet rapidly while moving forward or in circles. Male inflates neck sacs, then deflates them with hollow cooing sound; also rattles tail feathers. Fe
male visits display grounds, mates with one of the males.
Nest: Site is on ground, under shrub or thick clump of grass. Nest (built by female) is a shallow depression with a sparse lining of grass, leaves, ferns.
Eggs: 5-17, typically about 12. Olive-buff to pale brown, usually speckled with various browns. Incubation is by female only, about 23-24 days.
Young: Downy young leave nest shortly after hatching. Female tends young and leads them to feeding areas, but young feed themselves. Young can make short flights at age of 1-2 weeks, but are not full-grown for several more weeks.

Feeding habits

Mostly seeds, buds, leaves.
Mostly vegetarian for most of year. In winter, when food on ground is mostly buried by snow, feeds heavily on buds of trees and shrubs. In spring, eats leaves, green shoots, large numbers of flowers. Varied diet in fall, with seeds, berries, leaves, wast
e grains. Insects eaten mainly in summer (especially by young birds), including many grasshoppers.
Behavior: Forages mostly on ground in summer, mostly in trees and shrubs in winter.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Sharp-tailed Grouse status Least Concern


Alaska, Canada, northwestern and north-central United States. Migration: No major migration, but birds may move several miles with the season to reach optimum habitat for summer or winter.

Distribution map

Sharp-tailed Grouse distribution range map

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