Tympanuchus Phasianellus – Sharp-tailed Grouse

Tympanuchus Phasianellus - Sharp-tailed Grouse found in the US

The sharp-tailed grouse, Tympanuchus phasianellus is a medium-sized prairie grouse. The sharp-tailed grouse is one of three species in the Tympanuchus genus. Saskatchewan’s provincial bird is the sharp-tailed grouse.

Quick Overview: Tympanuchus Phasianellus – Sharp-tailed Grouse
Body size: Around 16-19 in (41-48 cm) and a weight of 952 g (33-6 oz)
Main colors: Brown, Black, White, Golden (Yellow), Purple, Olive (Green)
Range: Northern United States
Migratory Bird: No
Best time of the year to see in the U.S.: All Year (January – December)
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Sharp-tailed Grouse Description

Sharp-tailed grouse share characteristics with bigger and lesser prairie chickens. Grasshoppers have short feathery legs, spherical bodies, and short tails that tip sharply. Dark hues ranging from brown to black pattern their feathers. Their white breast feathers contain V-shaped olive markings. Males and females have a golden circular crest over their eyes. Females lack the male’s brilliant purple air sacs. They may vocalize these air sacs.

Tympanuchus Phasianellus - Sharp-tailed Grouse found in the US
Tympanuchus Phasianellus – Sharp-tailed Grouse, Photo by: USFWS Mountain-Prairie


These birds have a length of 16-19 in (41-48 cm) and a weight of 952 g (33-6 oz). Their wings could range from 21-25 in (53-64 cm).


Sharp-tailed grouse are mostly herbivores, consuming leaves, flowers, fruits, grains, seeds, nuts, and insects. During the fall and winter, the sharp-tailed grouse feeds on tamarack leaf buds, white birch buds, and catkins, dwarf birch buds and catkins, sunflower, goldenrod, sumac, Russian olive fruits, buffalo berry.


This species is found in prairies, bogs, agricultural regions, and open woodlands in the spring and summer. They migrate to higher elevations with larger shrubs and open wetlands in early autumn, where they spend the winter. Although sharp-tailed grouse do not generally migrate, they have been observed doing so during hard winters.


They are sociable birds. Sharp-tailed grouse are ground dwellers. When the grouse fly, it is not for long. These birds fly fewer than 100 meters per day and spend less time flying when on leks. Sharp-tail grouse usually soar over leks to warn other grouses of predators. The sharp-tail grouse flies with an average speed of 69 km/h. When a predator approaches their nest, female grouse disguise themselves as wounded to deter the predator.

Tympanuchus phasianellus Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Galliformes
  • Family: Phasianidae
  • Genus: Tympanuchus
  • Species: Tympanuchus phasianellus

Best time of the year to see

In the United States, the best time of year to see these birds is all year round, regardless of the season. This refers to any month of the year between January and December.

Distribution of the Sharp-tailed Grouse in the USA

From inland Alaska to the southern shore of Hudson Bay, and south to northern Utah northeastern New Mexico, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

The Sharp-tailed Grouse can be found in the following states in the United States – Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

Tympanuchus Phasianellus – Sharp-tailed Grouse

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