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Greater sage-grouse

Greater sage-grouse

Scientific name: Centrocercus urophasianus  

Status: Species of Concern

Listing: In March 2010, the USFWS determined that the greater sage-grouse warranted the protection of the Endangered Species Act but that listing the species at that time was precluded by the need to address higher priority species first. After evaluating the best available scientific and commercial information regarding the greater sage-grouse, on September 22, 2105, the USFWS has determined that ESA protection is no longer warranted and has withdrawn the species from the candidate species list. Learn more here

Map of potential greater sage-grouse populations in Washington. 

  • Species information

    Description: The greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) is a large, rounded-winged, ground-dwelling bird. It has a long, pointed tail with legs feathered to the base of the toes and fleshy yellow combs over the eyes.

    Males: Males are larger than females and sport a white ruff around their necks in addition to the typical mottled brown, black and white plumage. Males have bright yellow air sacks on their breasts, which they inflate during their mating display.

    Females: Females are a mottled brown, black, and white.

    Size: Typically 30 inches in length and up to 2 feet tall; Males often weigh in excess of 4-5 pounds and hens weigh in at 2-3 pounds.

    Lifespan: 1 to 1-1/2 years; However, they have been found to survive up to 10 years in the wild.

    Diet/Feed: Omnivore, eating mainly sagebrush, some other soft plants, and insects.

    Habitat: The breeding habitat for the greater sage-grouse is sagebrush country in the western United States and southern Alberta and Saskatchewan. They nest on the ground under sagebrush or grass patches. They live in elevations ranging from 4,000 to over 9,000 feet; cannot survive in areas where sagebrush does not exist.

    Distribution: The historic range of the greater sage-grouse included Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, South Dakota, North Dakota, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, New Mexico, Arizona, and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. Greater sage-grouse have apparently disappeared from Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona British Columbia and Saskatchewan.

    Background  and status in Washington

    Greater sage-grouse still occur in just four, small and relatively isolated populations in the eastern part of Washington. The current range is approximately eight percent of the presumed historic range. Two of the four populations contain native populations; the other two are reintroduction sites where greater sage-grouse were extirpated less than 30 years prior. Leks in the state are among the least well-connected in the sage-grouse’s range.

    Unlike other states, greater sage-grouse in Washington are primarily found on a fragmented landscape of private lands. In 2015, the Service evaluated multiple factors and found that the population in the Columbia Basin, while geographically separate, is not biologically significant to greater sage-grouse rangewide and is therefore not a Distinct Population Segment.

    Learn more about greater sage grouse.

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