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
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.
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.
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.