Greater Sage-Grouse
Greater Sage-Grouse at a lek near Bodie, California. (Photos by Jeannie Stafford/USFWS)

The greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) is a large, ground-dwelling bird. Measuring as much as 30 inches in length and two feet tall, it weighs from two to seven pounds. It has a long, pointed tail with legs feathered to the base of the toes and fleshy yellow combs over the eyes. Males are larger than females and sport a white ruff around their necks in addition to the typical mottled brown, black and white plumage.

Distribution and Habitat: The greater sage-grouse is found at elevations ranging from 4,000 to over 9,000 feet. It is an omnivore, eating mainly sagebrush, some other soft plants, and insects.

One of the most interesting aspects of the greater sage-grouse is its nearly complete reliance on sagebrush. These birds cannot survive in areas where sagebrush does not exist.

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.

Greater sage-grouse that occur in the Bi-State area of eastern California and west central Nevada have been referred to as Mono Basin Area population of sage-grouse by some. The geographic range covered by Mono Basin area population of sage-grouse includes portions of Carson City , Lyon, Mineral, Esmeralda, and Douglas Counties in Nevada and portions of Alpine and Inyo Counties , and most of Mono County , in California . Several studies have documented that greater sage-grouse in this geographic area are genetically unique compared to populations of greater sage-grouse elsewhere in the species range. However, the full extent of this uniqueness is yet to be determined.
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