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Greater Sage-Grouse Identification

Sage-grouse are the largest grouse in North America and exhibit the most sexual dimorphism; the males are nearly twice the size of females. In other grouse species males and females are nearly indistinguishable in size. The male shown in the following photo is in full display.

Photo shows size difference between male and female sage-grouse.

In Flight

Sage-grouse Photo os greater sage-grouse in flight shows following characteristics:
Male and female: big difference in size. Male length = 28 inches, width = 38 inches. Female length = 22 inches, width = 33 inches. Male sage-grouse: chocolate brown belly band, broad wing span, long pointed tail, and large size are diagnostic. Sage-grouse have slower wing beats than other grouse.

Sharp-tailed grouse Illustration of sharp-tailed grouse in flight shows following characteristics:
Male and female similar. Length = 17 inches, width = 25 inches. Male and female sharp-tailed grouse are similar: pale under belly; short pointed tail. Sharp-tails wobble in flight.

Hen pheasant Illustration of hen pheasant in flight shows following characteristics:
Length =  21 inches, width = 31 inches. Hen pheasant has a long, pointed tail.

Photo: Daniel J. Cox/NaturalExposure.com.
Illustrations by Ron Jenkins. Used with permission from Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.

Sage-Grouse

Photo of female sage-grouse shows casual pose and black belly.
Female – casual pose, black belly

Photo of male sage-grouse shows casual pose and black throat.
Male – casual pose, black belly, black throat

Photo of displaying male sage-grouse shows following characteristics:
Displaying males’ folded wings are drawn across stiffened feathers at the sides of the neck, producing a brushing sound. Olive green inflated skin patches on the breast bulge repeatedly to create a dramatic and unusual sound (plopping) and visual display.

Sharp-Tailed Grouse

Photo of shart-tailed grouse shows following characteristics:
Alert pose – pale belly

Photo of displaying male sage-grouse shows following characteristics:
With their tails erect, displaying males “rattle their tails” and coo.

Photo: Photo courtesy Drake Burton.