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Sharp-tailed Grouse Tympanuchus phasianellus


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Sharp-tailed Grouse
credit: Gerry/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Phasianidae, Pheasants and Grouse view all from this family

Description ADULT MALE Yellow-buff with white spots on back and wings, and barring on neck and underparts. Tail is yellow-buff above, fringed with barred feathers. When not displaying, note dark eyestripe. ADULT FEMALE Similar to male, but smaller, with less striking markings; neck sacs and wattles are absent. JUVENILE Similar to adult female.

Dimensions Length: 15-20" (38-51 cm)

Habitat In decline due to habitat destruction but still locally common in sagebrush and grassland.

Observation Tips Easily overlooked except in breeding season.

Range Northwest, Western Canada, Alaska, Great Lakes, Plains, Rocky Mountains, Southwest, Eastern Canada

Voice Displaying male utters hoots and clucks.

Similar Species Greater Prairie-Chicken T. cupido (L 16-18 in) is mainly western U.S. with a few prairie outposts in East. Plumage is dark-barred and buff. Male has bolder markings than female; when displaying (at lek) shows inflated orange neck sacs, yellow wattles above eyes, and raised head feathers.

Discussion Plump grouse. Mostly unobtrusive but in spring males display at leks with neck wattle sacs inflated; erect tail is shaken, accompanied by foot-stamping.