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Sharp-tailed Grouse (Pedioecetes phasianellus)

sharp-tailed grouse


  • Average measure is about 45 centimetres (18 inches) long.


  • When flushed, sharp-tailed grouse usually fly long distances. In flight, their white wings, breast and tail are conspicuous.
  • As the name of this grouse suggests, tail feathers are narrow and pointed with white edges.
  • Sharp-tailed grouse are scattered throughout Alberta in areas of suitable habitat.
Natural History


  • These grouse favour brush and aspen groves in the parkland zone and edges of forest clearings near grain fields.
  • Favourable winter habitat consists of wooded areas where tree buds are available, and grassy areas that supply seeds.


  • Diet includes buds, flowers, insects and seeds.
Reproduction and Growth

Breeding Behaviour

  • Each spring, males move to traditional dancing grounds to perform their breeding ritual.
  • During the mating dance, males hold their tails erect and shake them while they dance about in circles with their wings outstretched. Their large purple neck sacs are inflated, and they utter low, cooing and popping sounds.
  • Hens are attracted to the dancing grounds where breeding occurs. They lay about 12 olive-brown eggs in nests hidden in tall grass.
  • Incubation lasts about 24 days.
  • After hatching, the brood moves to open grassy areas to feed and to stands of trees to roost on hot days. In 8 to 10 weeks the broods disperse.
  • Males again move to dancing grounds in the fall, where young birds display and compete.
  • In November, sharp-tailed grouse flock together to spend the winter in large groups.
Conservation and Management


Sharp-tailed grouse are classified as Sensitive in the General Status of Alberta Wild Species report. See:


  • Though this species is common and widespread, population seems to be in decline.
  • Increased agricultural activity has deceased available habitat for this species in central Alberta.

Current management


Specific season information is provided in the current Alberta Guide to Hunting Regulations. To view the guide online or to order a printed copy, visit the My Wild Alberta website at:

Similar Species
  • Ring-necked Pheasant

    The narrow, pointed, white-edged tail feathers of sharp-tailed grouse distinguish them from female pheasants.


Page Information

Posted: Apr 7, 2009