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Idaho Fish and Game

Two male sage grouse cross paths in a field.

Sage-grouse in Idaho

The Greater Sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) is an impressive 6 pounds and the largest North American grouse.

They are brown, buff, and white with a long, pointy tail and black belly.

Sage-grouse are best known for their incredible courtship displays. A displaying male sage-grouse is an impressive sight as he fans his tail and drags his wings along his rough neck feathers while inflating his yellow air sacs. The whole display sounds like a series of swishes, hoots, and pops.

Breeding sage-grouse use an area called a “lek” for their courtship displays. This is a small, open area where a group of males gather annually to display for the hens. Biologists keep track of populations by recording the number of sage-grouse using a lek.

Sage-grouse Habitat

No other bird better symbolizes Idaho's high desert sagebrush country than the greater sage-grouse.

Sage-grouse need good-quality sagebrush habitat for nesting, rearing their young, and food and cover throughout the year. They cannot survive without it. In winter, their diet is made up entirely of sagebrush leaves and buds.

Sage-grouse were once abundant in sagebrush habitats of the western United States and Canada. Unfortunately, the bird and its habitat have declined due to loss of sagebrush.

Fire, invasive species, and human activities have all destroyed sagebrush habitat.

Fortunately, we now understand how important sagebrush is. Hunters, landowners, bird watchers, and many others are working together to help restore and preserve sagebrush habitat.

Sagebrush hills with with a small stream in between

Sage-grouse Management

Sage-grouse management planning is conducted in conjunction with the Idaho Office of Species Conservation. Idaho-specific policy direction and recommendations for sage-grouse conservation administered on public lands (BLM, USFS, etc.) can be found at Greater Sage-Grouse | Species Conservation. Additional recommendations and guidance for sage-grouse management in Idaho can be found at the following:

Other Planning Documents

Sage-grouse Hunting

View sage-grouse hunting information, including seasons and rules, maps, and more.

Sage-grouse hunting seasons and rules