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Sage Grouse Centrocercus urophasianus
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species is listed as Near Threatened owing to a continuing and moderately rapid decline in its population.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Taxonomic note
Centrocercus urophasianus (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) has been split into C. urophasianus and C. minimus following AOU (1998).

Distribution and population
Centrocercus urophasianus inhabits the shrubland ecosystems of south-eastern Canada (Alberta and Saskatchewan) and western USA (Washington, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah and Colorado) (del Hoyo et al. 1994, Schroeder et al. 1999). Although the accurate estimation of trends is difficult, the range-wide breeding population was estimated as 142,000 individuals in 1998, clearly lower than historic levels (Braun 1998), and decline rates have been estimated at 50% or higher since 1966 (J. Wells and K. Rosenberg in litt. 2003).

Population justification
There are estimated to be c.150,000 mature individuals (Rich et al. 2004).

Trend justification
The Partners In Flight Technical Committee has estimated this species's global trend as a more than 50% decline over c.40 years, a rate that would equate to a decline of c.20% or more per decade.

It is closely associated with sagebrush Artemesia habitats during the breeding and non-breeding seasons, although some populations do undergo seasonal movements (del Hoyo et al. 1994, Schroeder et al. 1999). It is a lekking species. It may act as an umbrella to other sage-brush specialists when conserved.

Immense areas of its habitat have been cleared or degraded due to cultivation (for wheat, potatoes and other crops), burning and overgrazing, and the species has been extirpated from various parts of its former range (British Columbia, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona) (Schroeder et al. 1999). Continuing development of natural gas resources is causing reduced lek attendance and overall population (Holloran and Anderson 2005). Coyote Canis latrans control is likely to have a detrimental impact on sage grouse owing to the loss of beneficial indirect interactions (Mezquida et al. 2006). In 2003, about 25% of the radio-marked sage-grouse in the Powder River Basin died from West Nile virus. That number dropped to 10% in 2004 and 2% in 2005 in response to cool summer temperatures, but the long-term impacts require further study. There have been large-scale losses of sagebrush habitat owing to changes in fire frequencies resulting from cheatgrass proliferation (Holloran in litt. 2007).

Conservation Actions Underway
The species occurs within a number of protected areas and has been the focus of extensive ecological study. Management recommendations have been made to minimise the impacts of natural gas exploitation in sagebrush habitat (Holloran and Anderson 2005) and the Western Governor's Association are developing a strategy to minimise the impacts of development on sage grouse populations. A total of 63 Sage Grouse Local Working Groups have been established within its range, bringing stakeholders together to plan and implement local level conservation actions. Conservation Actions Proposed
Adopt best practice methods when developing gas fields. Continue to monitor population trends. Manage the sage-brush ecosystem in a way that is beneficial to other habitat specialists and restores natural food-webs.

Braun, C. E. 1998. Sage Grouse declines in western North America: what are the problems? Proceedings of the Western Association of State Fish and Wildlife Agencies 67: 139-156.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 1994. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 2: New World Vultures to Guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Holloran, M.; Anderson, S. H. 2005. Greater Sage-grouse response to natural gas field development in western Wyoming. Grouse News: 17-20.

Mezquida, E. T.; Slater, S. J.; Benkman, C. W. 2006. Sage-grouse and indirect interactions: potential implications of coyote control on Sage-grouse populations. Condor 108(4): 747-759.

Rich, T.D.; Beardmore, C.J.; Berlanga, H.; Blancher, P.J.; Bradstreet, M.S.W.; Butcher, G.S.; Demarest, D.W.; Dunn, E.H.; Hunter, W.C.; Inigo-Elias, E.E.; Martell, A.M.; Panjabi, A.O.; Pashley, D.N.; Rosenberg, K.V.; Rustay, C.M.; Wendt, J.S.; Will, T.C.

Schroeder, M. A.; Young, J. R.; Braun, C. E. 1999. Sage Grouse Centrocercus urophasianus. In: Poole, A.; Gill, F. (ed.), The birds of North America No. 425, pp. 1-28. The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia and the American Ornithologists' Union, Philadelphia and Washington, DC.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Bird, J., Harding, M., Pople, R., Taylor, J.

Butcher, G., Holloran, M., Rosenberg, K., Wells, J.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Centrocercus urophasianus. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Phasianidae (Pheasants, Partridges, Turkeys, Grouse)
Species name author (Bonaparte, 1827)
Population size 150000 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 1,320,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species