South Dakota
Birds and Birding
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Sharp-tailed Grouse

Tympanuchus phasianellus

Length: 16 to 18 inches Wingspan: 20 to 24 inches Seasonality: All Seasons
ID Keys: Body shape, spotted underparts, white outer feathers on tail in flight.  Compare to Greater Prairie Chicken.

Sharp-tailed Grouse - Tympanuchus phasianellus The Sharp-tailed Grouse is primarily found in more northerly locations than its close cousin, the Prairie Chickens.  Males gather on leks (breeding grounds) in the spring to perform their breeding displays, with tails up wings spread, and heads held low.  They have disappeared throughout much of their historic southern range.

Habitat: Prefers grasslands and prairies with scattered groves of trees or thickets.  They generally prefer more open habitats in the summer, and areas with more trees and bushes in the winter.

Diet: Feeds on a wide variety of plant matter, including seeds, leaves, berries, waste grain, buds, and flowers.  They will also feed on insects in the summer.

Behavior: Primarily forages on the ground in the summer months.  Will feed more often in trees and shrubs during the winter months, and can often be found roosting in trees.

Nesting: May and June

Song: Odd hoots interspersed with soft wek calls and chatters (chatters produced with feet stomping on the ground).

Migration: Generally a permanent resident, with small local movements.

Interactive eBird Map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Sharp-tailed Grouse sightings

Similar Species: Greater Prairie Chicken.  See the species comparison chart.

Conservation Status: Has disappeared throughout parts of its historic range due to habitat loss.  Declines in range and population are still occurring. 

Further Information: 1) Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Sharp-tailed Grouse

2) Cornell Lab of Ornithology - Sharp-tailed Grouse

3) - Sharp-tailed Grouse

Photo Information: January 9th, 2005 -- Fort Pierre National Grasslands near Pierre -- Terry Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Sharp-tailed Grouse photos.


Click ont the map below for a higher-resolution view
Sharp-tailed Grouse - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Common permanent resident in much of the state, except uncommon in the northeast, and absent in the southeast.