Index of Species Information
WILDLIFE SPECIES: Tympanuchus phasianellus
WILDLIFE SPECIES: Tympanuchus phasianellus
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION :
Tesky, Julie L. 1994. Tympanuchus phasianellus. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online].
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station,
Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available:
COMMON NAMES :
The currently accepted scientific name for sharp-tailed grouse is
Tympanuchus phasianellus (Linnaeus). It is in the family Phasianidae.
The six recognized subspecies are listed below :
Tympanuchus phasianellus phasianellus northern sharp-tailed grouse
Tympanuchus phasianellus kennicotti (Suckley) northwestern sharp-taile grouse
Tympanuchus phasianellus caurus (Friedmann) Alaskan sharp-tailed grouse
Tympanuchus phasianellus columbianus (Ord) Columbian sharp-tailed grouse
Tympanuchus phasianellus campestris (Ridgeway) prairie sharp-tailed grouse
Tympanuchus phasianellus jamesi (Lincoln) plains sharp-tailed grouse
Sharp-tailed grouse hybridize with greater prairie chickens (T. cupido)
and dusky grouse (Dendragapus obscurus) [43,51].
FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS :
The Columbian sharp-tailed grouse has been delisted .
OTHER STATUS :
Information on state- and province-level protection status of animals in the
United States and Canada is available at NatureServe, although recent changes
in status may not be included.
WILDLIFE DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE
WILDLIFE SPECIES: Tympanuchus phasianellus
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION :
Sharp-tailed grouse are found from north-central Alaska, the Yukon
Territory, the Northwest Territories, northern Manitoba, northern
Ontario, and central Quebec south to eastern Washington, northeast Utah,
and Colorado. It occurs in the Great Plains from eastern Colorado to
northern Minnesota, northern Wisconsin, and northern Michigan [1,8,24].
Ranges of the six subspecies are as follows:
Northern sharp-tailed grouse - breeds in northern Manitoba, northern
Ontario and central Quebec .
Northwestern sharp-tailed grouse - resident in the Northwest Territories
from the Mackenzie River to Great Slave Lake .
Alaskan sharp-tailed grouse - resident in north-central Alaska east to
the southern Yukon territory, northern British Columbia, and northern
Columbian sharp-tailed grouse - resident from northern British Columbia
south to eastern Washington, western Montana, northern Utah, and western
Colorado . Columbian sharp-tailed grouse range formerly extended to
California, Nevada, and New Mexico [23,33].
Prairie sharp-tailed grouse - resident from southeastern Manitoba,
southwestern Ontario, and the upper Peninsula of Michigan to northern
Minnesota and northern Wisconsin. Its range formerly extended to
northern Illinois .
Plains sharp-tailed grouse - resident from north-central Alberta and
central Saskatchewan south to Montana (except the extreme west),
northeastern Wyoming, northeastern Colorado, portions of Nebraska, South
Dakota, and North Dakota. Its range formerly extended to Kansas,
Oklahoma, and New Mexico .
FRES10 White-red-jack pine
FRES21 Ponderosa pine
FRES26 Lodgepole pine
FRES28 Western hardwoods
FRES36 Mountain grasslands
FRES38 Plains grasslands
FRES40 Desert grasslands
BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS :
5 Columbia Plateau
6 Upper Basin and Range
8 Northern Rocky Mountains
9 Middle Rocky Mountains
10 Wyoming Basin
11 Southern Rocky Mountains
12 Colorado Plateau
13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont
14 Great Plains
16 Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands
KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS :
K012 Douglas-fir forest
K015 Western spruce - fir forest
K016 Eastern ponderosa forest
K038 Great Basin sagebrush
K046 Desert: vegetation largely lacking
K050 Fescue - wheatgrass
K051 Wheatgrass - bluegrass
K055 Sagebrush steppe
K056 Wheatgrass - needlegrass shrubsteppe
K057 Galleta - three-awn shrubsteppe
K063 Foothills prairie
K064 Grama - needlegrass - wheatgrass
K065 Grama - buffalograss
K066 Wheatgrass - needlegrass
K067 Wheatgrass - bluestem - needlegrass
K068 Wheatgrass - grama - buffalograss
K069 Bluestem - grama prairie
K070 Sandsage - bluestem prairie
K074 Bluestem prairie
K075 Nebraska Sandhills prairie
K081 Oak savanna
K082 Mosaic of K074 and K100
K093 Great Lakes spruce - fir forest
K094 Conifer bog
K095 Great Lakes pine forest
K098 Northern floodplain forest
K099 Maple - basswood forest
K100 Oak - hickory forest
K106 Northern hardwoods
K107 Northern hardwoods - fir forest
SAF COVER TYPES :
1 Jack pine
5 Balsam fir
12 Black spruce
13 Black spruce - tamarack
15 Red pine
17 Pin cherry
18 Paper birch
19 Gray birch - red maple
21 Eastern white pine
23 Eastern hemlock
24 Hemlock - yellow birch
25 Sugar maple - beech - yellow birch
26 Sugar maple - basswood
42 Bur oak
52 White oak - black oak - northern red oak
53 White oak
55 Northern red oak
107 White spruce
210 Interior Douglas-fir
218 Lodgepole pine
236 Bur oak
237 Interior ponderosa pine
SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES :
PLANT COMMUNITIES :
The six subspecies of sharp-tailed grouse occupy a variety of habitats
including brushy openings in boreal forests, seral stages in mixed
conifer and broadleaf forests, shortgrass prairies, sagebrush (Artemisia
spp.) steppes, and oak (Quercus spp.) savannahs [24,33,37]. Columbian
sharp-tailed grouse are typically found in sagebrush semideserts .
Of the nine cover types near Mann Creek in western Idaho, Columbian
sharp-tailed grouse used big sagebrush (A. tridentata) types more
than or in proportion to availability, low sagebrush (A. arbuscula) in
proportion to availability, and avoided shrubby eriogonum (Eriogonum
spp.) cover types. Columbian sharp-tailed grouse selected areas with
greater density and coverage of arrowleaf balsamroot (Balsamorhiza
sagittata) and bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata) in big
sagebrush sites . Columbian sharp-tailed grouse broods in Wyoming
were found most often (73%) in mountain shrub and sagebrush-common
snowberry (Symphorocarpus albus) habitats .
Prairie sharp-tailed grouse are often found in oak savannahs and early
successional stages of eastern mixed deciduous-coniferous forests .
In northwestern Wisconsin, vegetation types heavily used by prairie
sharp-tailed grouse depending on season included grass-shrub,
shrub-grass, shrub, open conifer woods, sedge (Carex spp.) meadows,
shrub marshes, and croplands .
Plains sharp-tailed grouse occur in subclimax brushy grassland habitat
including wheatgrass-needlegrass (Stipa spp.), grama
(Bouteloua)-needlegrass-wheatgrass, sand sagebrush (A.
filifolia)-bluestem (Andropogon spp.), and Nebraska sandhills prairie
. Optimum habitat in the mixed-grass prairie of Montana is a mosaic
of upland grassland with fragrant sumac (Rhus aromatica) and riparian
hardwood draws. An interspersion of plant communities, particularly
grassland and grassland-shrub mixtures with extensive ecotones, provided
optimum habitat for plains sharp-tailed grouse in the central Alberta
quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) parklands. Good plains sharp-tailed
grouse habitat in South Dakota consisted of lightly grazed mixed-grass
prairie occasionally broken by brushy draws . Wintering plains
sharp-tailed grouse in Alberta were found in quaking aspen parklands.
During winter in North Dakota, plains sharp-tailed grouse were found in
stands of bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa), chokecherry (Prunus virginiana),
quaking aspen, cottonwood (Populus spp.), green ash (Fraxinus
pennsylvanica), and willow (Salix spp.) .
Northern, Northwestern and Alaskan sharp-tailed grouse inhabit brushy
stages of northern boreal forests .
BIOLOGICAL DATA AND HABITAT REQUIREMENTS
WILDLIFE SPECIES: Tympanuchus phasianellus
TIMING OF MAJOR LIFE HISTORY EVENTS :
Courtship and breeding - Sharp-tailed grouse are a true lek species:
The males defend small territories on traditional "dancing grounds"
where they compete for mating opportunities. Typically only a few males
mate. The height of male displaying occurs in the spring . The
female begins to make a nest at about the same time she begins to visit
the dancing grounds or possibly even before. After successfully mating
she leaves the dancing grounds and probably does not return. Males also
display at dancing grounds during autumn. The autumn display is thought
to recruit first-year males into the lekking group and to maintain or
improve territorial position among established males .
Age at sexual maturity - Young male sharp-tailed grouse probably begin
establishing peripheral territories their first fall of life, and these
are held again the following spring . Females probably breed for
the first time as yearlings .
Clutch size and incubation - Sharp-tailed grouse generally lay 12 eggs.
Eggs are laid at a rate of one per day and incubation begins when the
last egg has been laid. The incubation period is 23 to 24 days. The
precocial young all hatch on the same day [24,33]. Renesting attempts
sometimes occur but probably contribute no more than 10 percent of the
offspring in an average season .
Fledging - After the young hatch they are led away from the nest.
Chicks are able to fly to a limited degree when they are 10 days old,
and rapidly become independent. By the time they are 6 to 8 weeks old
they are fully independent, and broods gradually break up and disperse
Fall and winter flocks - Sharp-tailed grouse sometimes form fall and
winter flocks. In Wisconsin, sharp-tailed grouse formed flocks when
they could not borrow through snow because snow depth was less than 7
inches (18 cm). They left flocks when snow was greater than 7 inches
(18 cm) deep and burrowing was possible. Flock sizes decreased when
availability of ground food decreased .
PREFERRED HABITAT :
Courtship habitat - A common characteristic of sharp-tailed grouse leks
is low, sparse vegetation allowing good visibility and unrestricted
movement . Height and density of vegetation appear to be important
factors in selection of leks . Sharp-tailed grouse leks have been
reported on mowed wet meadows, cattle-trampled areas around windmills,
low ridges and knolls, and recent burns .
An excess of woody cover can adversely affect leks [17,37]. In
Minnesota, sharp-tailed grouse leks occurred where there was a 0.12 mile
(0.19 km) diameter area relatively free of woody vegetation . In a
Michigan study, woody cover rarely exceeded 30 percent of the area of
the lek . In Alberta, density of displaying male sharp-tailed
grouse was inversely related to total coverage of quaking aspen within
0.5 mile (0.8 km) of leks. Sharp-tailed grouse leks in quaking aspen
parkland of Manitoba were abandoned when the area dominated by grasses
fell below 58 percent . In Michigan the average distance from the
center of a lek to dense brush was 690 feet (210 m); the average
distance from the center of the lek to the nearest tree was 900 feet
(274 m) .
Leks are often located relatively close to dense herbaceous cover from
the previous year's growth ("residual" cover) . Females frequent
heavier cover than do males during the breeding season, so heavy cover
may be used by males to locate leks in heterogeneous habitats. The
distribution of leks used by sparse populations in east-central North
Dakota was influenced by the proximity of dense residual herbaceous
vegetation. Eleven of 14 sharp-tailed grouse leks were within 590 feet
(180 m) of grassland or cropland areas which had not been mowed or
grazed for several years and supported heavy stands of residual growth
each spring. New leks were established in Montana following substantial
increases in residual cover, and the largest leks were located in areas
surrounded by dense stands of residual vegetation .
Nesting habitat - Sharp-tailed grouse nest on the ground, preferably
among tall, rank grasses, but may also nest in brushy or woody areas
. Residual herbaceous vegetation is important nesting cover because
little current growth is available in early spring when most nests are
constructed . Female sharp-tailed grouse usually do not travel far
from leks to nest if suitable cover is available. The mean distance from
known leks to 78 nests in western North Dakota was 0.8 mile (1.3 km),
with a maximum of 2 miles (3.2 km). The mean distance between nests and
leks in Saskatchewan was about 0.5 mile (0.9 km); all nests were within
1 mile (1.6 km) of leks .
In the Nebraska sandhills, plains sharp-tailed grouse preferred to nest
on northern slopes dominated by residual cover of warm-season grasses
. Of 78 plains sharp-tailed grouse nests found in North Dakota, 62
were in rolling grassland and 11 were in lowland draws; most were more
than 164 feet (50 m) from woody cover. Females selected tall vegetation
within a pasture for nest sites; plant height was more important than
Nesting cover for prairie sharp-tailed grouse tends to be less grassy
and more shrubby than that for plains sharp-tailed grouse . In
Michigan, most prairie sharp-tailed grouse nests were protected by
overhead cover or were within a few feet of such cover. Of 29 nests
found, none was more than 10 feet (3.3 m) from brushy or woody cover.
Of 10 nests studied, 6 were in open aspen, 3 were in cutover pines, and
1 was in an open marsh. These sites averaged 43 percent shrub cover,
from 3 to 6 feet (1-2 m) high, and 4 percent tree cover more than 6
feet (2 m) tall .
Brood habitat - Favored brooding sites are those that contain relatively
dense herbaceous cover, associated with a mixture of shrubs and forbs
. Broods use cultivated lands that are generally avoided before
nesting . Openings in forested areas may also be used [19,24].
Woody cover is more important for broods than for nesting hens . In
North Dakota, broods frequently used woody cover in draws or on uplands
for shelter from rain and midday heat . Generally, dense brush is
used during early brood stages . Sharp-tailed grouse broods in the
Wisconsin pine barrens used more woody cover than that chosen for nest
sites but in general remained in areas that did not exceed 50 percent
shading by woody cover . Of 190 broods in the Wisconsin pine
barrens, about 80 percent were in open habitats, 14 percent were in edge
habitats, and only 5 percent were more than 150 feet (46 m) inside woody
habitats . Shrubs are more important in brood habitat than trees,
since they provide cover and food for chicks .
Roosting habitat - After the mating season males gradually move away
from their leks to foraging and daytime roosting sites that usually
include brushy cover, aspen or willow thickets, or young conifer stands.
In Utah, during the day sharp-tailed grouse roosted in weeds and grass
during June and early July and in shrubs and bushes in late July and
August. Night roosts located in fairly open upland sites with good
ground cover are preferred by sharp-tailed grouse over roosts in marsh
and bog vegetation . Roost sites in the Nebraska sandhills were
typically dominated by grasses and were often interspersed with woody
Winter habitat - Winter use of habitats varies with snow depth . As
food and cover are reduced in open habitats, sharp-tailed grouse move
into woody vegetation [24,37]. Sharp-tailed grouse also dig snow
burrows for shelter if snow depth is adequate; death may occur in severe
weather if no snow is available for burrowing .
Growth form of dominant grasses is important in late winter habitat. In
late winter and early spring, when shrub canopies are open and dry snow
is unavailable for burrowing, heavy or deep (> 4 inches [10.2 cm]) snow
may collapse sod-forming grasses. Bunchgrasses are more resistant to
collapsing under heavy snow and can provide cover when snow is up to 12
inches (30.5 cm) deep .
Habitat use by plains sharp-tailed grouse in eastern Montana was most
diverse during the winter [37,44]. During periods of deep snow on
mixed-grass prairie, plains sharp-tailed grouse used hardwood draws more
often than upland grasslands and croplands. Grassy upland use was
greatest when snow depth was low . As snow exceeded 5.5 inches
(14.0 cm), use of hardwood draws and riparian forest increased. During
the winter in northern Montana, plains sharp-tailed grouse are commonly
found in coulees bordering streams with 10 to 15 percent shrub canopy
cover . These habitats were critical for food during deep snow
conditions. Wintering plains sharp-tailed grouse in Alberta parklands
roosted in the lee of quaking aspen trees and fed on their buds.
Columbian sharp-tailed grouse in California and Washington and
sharp-tailed grouse of an unspecified subspecies in Manitoba remained in
the open where grain foods were available during winter .
COVER REQUIREMENTS :
Good quality grass and brushy cover are essential for sharp-tailed
grouse. The height and density of vegetation is generally more
important than species composition in determining sharp-tailed grouse
habitat quality . Sharp-tailed grouse prefer areas that contain
cover in scattered openings rather than evenly distributed .
Standing herbage or residual cover composed chiefly of grasses furnishes
protection for sharp-tailed grouse from inclement weather and predators,
especially in late winter and early spring . In late summer and
early fall they are found mainly in open cover, grassy openings, or low,
scattered brush . Scattered shrubs and shrubby breaks are more
important during late summer and fall than in midsummer, when grass
height is sufficient. Woody vegetative cover generally becomes
increasingly important during fall and winter .
Prairie sharp-tailed grouse in Michigan are abundant in areas 20 to 50
percent covered by woody vegetation. The following are recommendations
for sharp-tailed grouse habitat in that area: Sparse or bare patches in
the ground cover should not exceed half of the total area, and the area
of open habitat in wooded vegetation should not be less than 1 square
mile (2.59 sq km). Ideal summer habitat on a square mile should include
an open portion of about 6 percent of the total area to provide a
display site, loafing and foraging habitat for adult males and broods,
and roosting sites for displaying males. About half of the total area
should consist of scattered large shrubs and trees, especially aspens.
Heavy ground cover serves for resting, feeding, and dusting, especially
by broods . The remaining 44 percent of the cover should consist of
an alternating series of small (10 acre [4 ha]) brushy clearings and
heavier second-growth stands of mixed hardwoods and conifers, which
serve as a source of winter browse and protection from severe weather as
well as escape cover. The scattered small clearings provide additional
nesting and brood-rearing habitat and winter roosting areas .
For the Columbian sharp-tailed grouse, shrubs and small trees are
important habitat components only during late fall and winter. During
the rest of the year weed-grass cover and cultivated crops such as wheat
and alfalfa provide important food and cover .
The plains sharp-tailed grouse inhabiting the sandhills of central
Nebraska and the sand dune areas of north-central North Dakota are
relatively independent of extensive tree cover. A minimum of 5 percent
brush cover to total land surface is tolerable to sharp-tailed grouse in
North Dakota .
FOOD HABITS :
Sharp-tailed grouse are primarily herbivorous and utilize a variety of
leafy plant material including buds, fruits, and catkins of woody
species. During the spring and summer herbaceous plants make up the
bulk of the sharp-tailed grouse diet. During the fall and winter
sharp-tailed grouse rely more on woody species [24,37]. Sharp-tailed
grouse less than 10 weeks old feed primarily on insects such as
short-horned and long-horned grasshoppers, beetles, and ants. At 12
weeks of age they consume about 90 percent plant material, which closely
resembles the adult diet .
During the spring and summer in Washington, green herbaceous materials
composed the bulk of the sharp-tailed grouse diet; grass blades alone
(especially Sandberg bluegrass [Poa secunda]) totaled 50 percent of the
spring diet and 75 percent of the summer diet. Flower parts,
particularly those of dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) and buttercup
(Ranunculus spp.), made up the rest of the spring and summer food .
The summer diet of adult plains sharp-tailed grouse in Nebraska
sandhills was 91 percent plant material, 5 percent insects, and 4
percent unknown. Important food items by volume included 54 percent
clover (Trifolium spp.), 9 percent rose hips (Rosa spp.), 6 percent
Bessey cherry (Prunus besseyi), 4 percent dandelion, and 3 percent
eastern poison-ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) .
During fall, a diverse array of seeds and cultivated grains are eaten,
especially in agricultural areas. In nonagricultural areas shrub fruits
and seeds and green leaves of herbs, shrubs, and trees are eaten .
October foods of 53 plains sharp-tailed grouse showed a similar emphasis
on plant items (89%), including heavy use of fruits. Important plant
foods during this period were rose (46%), clovers, (16%), American
nightshade (Solanum americanum) (11%), clammy groundcherry (Physalis
heterophylla) (7%), dandelion (3%), and western snowberry
(Symphoricarpos occidentalis) (2%). Insects comprised 8 percent of the
October diet .
Fruits and berries were predominant in the fall diet of sharp-tailed
grouse in eastern Montana, followed by domestic grains. Russian olive
(Elaeagnus angustifolia) was heavily used even though scarce on the
study area. Grains were preferred during winter, although fruits and
buds were critical when snow became deep (>5.5 inches [>14 cm]). Silver
buffaloberry (Shepherdia argentea), fragrant sumac, Russian olive, and
creeping juniper (Juniperus horizontalis) composed two-thirds of foods
used during winter .
Availability of grain, fruiting shrubs, or deciduous trees is important
in winter. Paper birch (Betula papyrifera) and quaking aspen are major
winter food sources for prairie sharp-tailed grouse when snow cover
prevents foraging on grains or similar foods . In central
Wisconsin, paper birch buds and catkins are the primary winter foods of
prairie sharp-tailed grouse, with aspen of secondary importance. Among
shrubs, rose hips and hazel (Corylus spp.) buds and catkins are
important. In Ontario paper birch is the primary winter food for
prairie sharp-tailed grouse, supplemented by browse of willow, aspen,
blueberry (Vaccinium spp.), and mountain-ash (Sorbus spp.). In North
Dakota, willow buds are the most important single winter food for plains
sharp-tailed grouse, but chokecherry, cottonwood, and rose are major
supplementary species. During periods of heavy snow in Utah,
sharp-tailed grouse move into thickets of maple (Acer spp.),
chokecherry, and serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.), where they feed on
buds . The fruits of black hawthorn (Crataegus douglasii) and the
buds of Saskatoon serviceberry (A. alnifolia) and chokecherry were the
main winter foods of Columbian sharp-tailed grouse in western Idaho
Some predators of sharp-tailed grouse include red foxes (Vulpes vulpes),
coyotes (Canus latrans), and great horned owls (Bubo virginianus) and
other raptors .
MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS :
The populations and distributions of the Columbian, prairie, and plains
sharp-tailed grouse have all decreased from loss of habitat due to
intensive livestock grazing, conversion of range to cropland, and other
human activities . Overstocking results in loss of vegetation
necessary for nesting and may reduce shrubby cover needed for broods.
Woody vegetation frequently deteriorates in areas where livestock are
concentrated. In such areas it would be desirable to fence off some
woody stands to provide cover for sharp-tailed grouse [33,43]. In
western Idaho, mountain shrub and riparian cover types were the most
important winter habitats for Columbian sharp-tailed grouse. These
cover types are sometimes heavily damaged by livestock. Any disturbance
that may damage or eliminate these cover types may have severe negative
impacts on Columbian sharp-tailed grouse . In general, grazing
should be regulated so that approximately 15 percent of an area remains
unused during a season .
FIRE EFFECTS AND USE
WILDLIFE SPECIES: Tympanuchus phasianellus
DIRECT FIRE EFFECTS ON ANIMALS :
Fire occurring during the nesting season may kill sharp-tailed grouse
and destroy their nests and clutches . However, four of five
sharp-tailed grouse nests on the Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge,
North Dakota, survived a fire and the eggs hatched .
HABITAT RELATED FIRE EFFECTS :
Fire is an important factor in creating and maintaining sharp-tailed
grouse habitat. Fire helps to maintain early successional stages of
grasses, sedges, forb, and shrubs, all of which provide cover and food
for sharp-tailed grouse . Sharp-tailed grouse need open habitat
with good horizontal visibility for lek sites, so fires that reduce tall
cover would enhance lek availability and quality .
Much of the prairie habitat in which sharp-tailed grouse occur was
largely maintained by fire in presettlement times . On native
northern mixed prairie grassland in South Dakota, sharp-tailed grouse
were absent in an unburned control area, which contained dense grass.
They were present on a less dense burned area within a few months
following the fire .
Following fire in boreal forests of Alaska, stands of aspen and birch
develop on well-drained sites and are occupied by Alaskan sharp-tailed
Fire helps to eliminate dense mats of dead grasses, sedges, bushes,
sticks, and other debris which can act as a barrier to walking and
feeding. When this accumulation of debris is removed by fire,
sharp-tailed grouse make better use of the habitat .
Frequent fires may help reduce the number of wood ticks and other
parasites of sharp-tailed grouse .
Although fire is generally beneficial to sharp-tailed grouse, severe
fire may eliminate valuable cover essential for nesting, roosting,
hiding, and feeding. Severe fires in autumn may eliminate the entire
winter food and cover resource, making winter survival in that area
nearly impossible .
Fire helps to stimulate new food supplies for sharp-tailed grouse. In
Wisconsin, plants such as smartweed (Polygonum spp.) and ragweed
(Ambrosia spp.) usually increase following fire. Ragweed is one of the
best foods for sharp-tailed grouse. Numerous sedges and many grasses
eaten by sharp-tailed grouse also grow luxuriantly in fire-created
openings. Wild fruit supplies are greater and of better quality in
burned areas from 2 to 5 years after a fire because of the pruning
effect of fire . Sharp-tailed grouse in central Wisconsin occupy
semiopen oak woodlands which have been opened up by fire. Acorns are
easier to find in these woodlands. Oakwoods with dense underbrush are
generally not used by sharp-tailed grouse. Fires also prune older
growth of browse such as hazelnut (Corylus cornuta), chokecherry,
willow, and sweet-fern (Myrica asplenifolia) and stimulates the new
growth that is preferred by sharp-tailed grouse .
FIRE USE :
Prescribed fire has been used to maintain and improve sharp-tailed
grouse habitat in several areas [9,17,28,41,42]. Repeated prescribed
fire in Michigan has helped to improve sharp-tailed grouse habitat and
increase populations. Herbage produced following prescribed burning in
the pine types of Michigan provided food and cover for sharp-tailed
grouse that was not found on unburned areas . In Alaska and the
Yukon Territory, prescribed burning has helped convert spruce (Picea
spp.) muskeg habitat into more productive sharp-tailed grouse habitat
. Mature aspen can be converted to sharp-tailed grouse habitat
through repeated spring prescribed burning . Burning should be
avoided during the nesting season .
FIRE REGIMES :
Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this
species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under
"Find Fire Regimes".
WILDLIFE SPECIES: Tympanuchus phasianellus
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Lawrence, KS: Allen Press, Inc. 877 p. 
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Lakes States: does the sharp-tail have a future? Loon. 62(1): 42-45. 
4. Berg, William E.; Watt, Philip G. 1986. Prescribed burning for wildlife in
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Midwest: state-of-the-art: Proceedings of a symposium; 1986 March 3-6; Stevens
Point, WI. Stevens Point, WI: University of Wisconsin, College of Natural
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and amphibians by BLM physiographic regions and A.W. Kuchler's associations
for the eleven western states. Tech. Note 301. Denver, CO: U.S. Department of
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changes in residual grassland cover. Proceedings, Annual Conference of Western
Association of State Game and Fish Commissioners. 46: 219-222. 
7. Buss, Irven O.; Dziedzic, Eugene S. 1955. Relation of cultivation to the
disappearance of the Columbian sharp-tailed grouse from southeastern
Washington. The Condor. 57: 185-187. 
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and rangeland birds of the United States: Natural history and habitat use.
Agric. Handb. 688. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest
Service. 625 p. 
9. Doll, A. D. 1955. Sharptailed grouse management: progress report. Wisconsin
Conservation Bulletin. 20(12): 21-23. 
10. Ellison, Laurence N. 1975. Density of Alaskan spruce grouse before and
after fire. Journal of Wildlife Management. 39(3): 468-471. 
11. Eyre, F. H., ed. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and
Canada. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters. 148 p. 
12. Garrison, George A.; Bjugstad, Ardell J.; Duncan, Don A.; [and others].
1977. Vegetation and environmental features of forest and range
ecosystems. Agric. Handb. 475. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of
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