The sharp-tailed grouse is a shy North American bird -- shy of humans, that is. Each spring, however, they congregate and choose their mates. Brazenly, the males strut, hoot, drum their feet, and dance as the females watch from lower ground. Sharptails return to the same spot, called a lek, each year.

The gender of a sharp-tailed grouse can be determined by its head feathers. A female's head feathers are striped with alternating black and buff bands. A male's head feathers, on the other hand, are black with buff edges. If it's mating season, sexing the sharp-tailed grouse is even easier -- the males dance, and the females watch.

Tympanuchus phasianellus is made up of three subspecies: The Columbian sharptail, found mostly in the Midwest; the prairie sharptail, found mostly in the US wheat belt and the Rockies' rain shadow; and the northern sharptail, found mostly in Canada. Habitat diminishment, largely caused by the clearing of grasslands for agriculture and tree plantations, has taken a sad toll on sharptailed grouse populations in the latter half of the twentieth century.


some data gleaned from the Minnesota Sharp-Tailed Grouse Society

Sharp"tail` (?), n. Zool. (a)

The pintail duck.

(b)

The pintail grouse, or prairie chicken.

 

© Webster 1913.

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