SHARP-TAILED GROUSE

SHARP-TAILED GROUSE(Tympanuchus phasianellus)
DESCRIPTION: The Sharp-tailed Grouse plumage is brown with white streaks in both sexes, and the under parts are lighter with brown streaks. Adults have an orange eyebrow, and the male has a violet sac on the neck sides, which they inflate during courtship. There is a small crest on the head. The tail is white at the base in both sexes, but shorter in females. The conical bill is grey. The legs are covered with feathers, and the feet are grey.The bird length is around 45 cm (17 inches).
VOICE: https://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Tympanuchus-phasianellus
NAME: The English name ‘Grouse’ stems from old French ‘greoche’. Also related to the grey color. Latin genus name ‘Tympanuchus’ refers to the exposed tympanum (ear) area of this bird. Latin species name ‘phasianellus’ means a ‘small pheasant’.
HABITAT: Prairie grasslands, park lands and forest openings.
DIET: Young plant leaves, insects, seeds and berries.
Courtship ritual: Male sharp-tailed grouse have an elaborate courtship ritual. On early morning springs, they gather in high numbers in a place called ‘lek’ (from the Swedish word ‘play’), and perform ‘dances’ with cooing sounds to impress and win females. The male tail goes straight up when displaying (hence the name). The species will use the same location for their leks year after year, which is why it’s important to preserve those locations.
NESTING: Nesting is on the ground in a well-sheltered location, such as under a stump or shrub. The clutch size is about a dozen green eggs, incubated by female. If a clutch is lost to predation or other causes, the sharp-tailed grouse will often try to establish a second one. Chicks cared for by female, but they can feed themselves.
DISTRIBUTION: Year-round resident in the Prairie region in Canada and the USA, also in Alaska.
ON PEI: Well established on Prince Edward Island since its introduction, year-round resident but rare to uncommon.
CONSERVATION: Although not listed as being a species of concern on the IUCN Red List, the sharp-tailed grouse population has declined steadily due to loss of habitat. Since European settlement the species has been extirpated in several US states, mainly in the south west part of its initial range. There are also concerns for this bird in the western Canadian provinces, and there are programs for its conservation, such as this one in Alberta for landowners: Sharp-tailed Grouse Conservation – Alberta (downloadable .pdf brochure). Since the sharp-tailed grouse is a game bird, it is still being hunted, although within regulations.
NOTES:  The sharp-tailed grouse is the provincial bird of Saskatchewan.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Ruffed Grouse
REFERENCES: https://www.borealbirds.org/bird/sharp-tailed-grouse
https://www.mba-aom.ca/jsp/toc.jsp (Maritimes Breeding Bird Atlas)
http://fieldguide.mt.gov/speciesDetail.aspx?elcode=ABNLC13030 (Montana Field Guide)
https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/sharp-tailed-grouse
https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Tympanuchus_phasianellus/ (University of Michigan)
https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Sharp-tailed_Grouse/id
https://identify.whatbird.com/obj/641/overview/Sharp-tailed_Grouse.aspx
https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/birds/sharptailedgrouse.html

Sharp-tailed Grouse, breeding male - Mar. 29, 2016 - US FWS Mountain Prairie
Sharp-tailed Grouse, breeding male – Mar. 29, 2016 – US FWS Mountain Prairie
Sharp-tailed Grouse, female - Fort St. John, BC - Nov. 8, 2009 - Gerry
Sharp-tailed Grouse, female – Fort St. John, BC – Nov. 8, 2009 – Gerry

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