Some of Laura's bird pictures

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The Sharp-tailed Grouse is a wonderful gallinaceous bird. Many Native American dances were inspired by the wonderful displays given by males at first light on spring mornings.

Sharp-tailed Grouse Gallery

The following sounds were recorded from the blind on the Sharp-tailed Grouse Lek near Solon Springs, Wisconsin (Douglas County Wildlife Management Area ) on April 22, 2005 (choose the shortest ones if you have dial-up or a slow connection):

This video of several birds has muffled sound because the camera lens took up the entire hole in the blind, meaning the microphone was against the wall. (It's a 15MB file, so don't bother to open it if you have a slow or tenuous connection!)

Learn more about Sharp-tailed Grouse

Sharp-tailed Grouse

How you can help Sharp-tailed Grouse:

  • Never ride ATVs or other vehicles through Sharp-tailed Grouse nesting areas during their nesting season, from April through July.
  • If you hunt upland game birds, always use non-toxic shot. (Sharp-tailed Grouse and other seed-eating species pick up grit, including shot, to aid digestion in their gizzard.)
  • If you hunt birds, use a dog--you have a much better chance of retrieving every bird you shoot!
  • Do everything you can to support protection of grassland habitat.
  • Buy a Duck Stamp to support habitat acquisition in National Wildlife Refuges.
  • Try to avoid buying "corn-fed" beef, which has been raised on feedlots. Beef raised in pastures is far better for ensuring at least some grassland habitat.
  • Remove unnecessary fencing in Sharp-tailed Grouse habitat. A surprisingly high number of grouse and prairie-chickens crash into fences.
  • SLOW DOWN when driving near Sharp-tailed Grouse habitat.
Sharp-tailed Grouse

How you can see Sharp-tailed Grouse:

Some great places to look for Sharp-tailed Grouse in northern Wisconsin, where you can watch them from a blind, include

If you want to see their displays at close range, you need to arrive at an observation blind while it is still very dark. And you must remain in the blind until after the birds have left for the day, which may be close to 9 am. There is a short window of time each year when the birds engage in this wonderful display on their leks, and it's critical to allow them to do this undisturbed. Sharp-tailed Grouse are a declining species, and need every opportunity possible to successfully court and breed, and need as much habitat protected as possible so their ground nests aren't disturbed or damaged.

Sharp-tailed Grouse Sharp-tailed Grouse

At first light, it's easiest to see them with bright binoculars. As dawn brightens the fields, you may appreciate a spotting scope for closer looks.




These were digiscoped at dawn.
These were digiscoped with brighter light, well after sunup.
These were taken with my Sony 5x zoom cybershot--the birds were too hard to keep in view with a 30x spotting scope.
The birds are wonderful to watch, drumming their feet rapidly as they run about.





All my writing, images, videos, and sound recordings are copyrighted © 1997 - 2007 by Laura L. Erickson. I love to share my work to promote bird conservation and education, and to help people enjoy and learn about the birds and other creatures who live with us on this little planet. I produce this webpage, my radio program, and my photography and sound recordings entirely at my own expense. I could not bear for my hard work to be used to promote any product, company, or organization that is in any way harmful to birds. Please do not use any of my work in any for-profit projects without written permission from me. You can ask for permission by emailing me at