Common Name

Scientific Name

View Utah Distribution Map

Photo by Unknown Photographer
Photo Courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

The Columbain sharp-tailed grouse, Tympanuchus phasianellus columbianus, is also known as the pin-tailed grouse.

The male is about 20 inches long and the female slightly smaller. It weighs 1.5 to 1.75 pounds. Both sexes are grayish-brown with black and buffy markings. White spots on the primary wing feathers and the barred pattern of the wing are distinctive features. The under parts are buffy-white whereas the belly and under parts of the tail are white. Breast feathers have a pattern of dark, V-shaped markings. The two central tail feathers are longer than the rest. Males have purple air sacs on the sides of the neck that cannot be seen except when inflated.

Bunch-grass areas of the foothills and benches interspersed with deciduous shrubs is the preferred habitat.

Males gather on established "dancing grounds" during early spring for courtship displays of dancing. Females visit these grounds where mating takes place. Nesting begins in April. Nests are shallow hollows lined with grass and leaves, usually placed near a bush or clump of grass. About 14 olive-brown eggs, laid by the female, are hatched after 24 days of incubation.

Primary food items are grass seeds, green vegetation, fruits of wild shrubs and trees, buds, and waste grains. Insects are readily taken during the summer.

Historically, Columbian sharp-tailed grouse ranged through central Utah to Piute County, but they are now limited to a remnant population in eastern Box Elder, Cache, and Morgan counties. Conversion of native bunch grass ranges to cropland, and domestic livestock grazing are believed to have caused the decline. The Columbian sharp-tailed grouse is native to Utah and is listed as a sensitive species by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.


  • Text modified from: Rawley, E. V., W. J. Bailey, D. L. Mitchell, J. Roberson, and J. Leatham. 1996. Utah upland game. Publication number 63-12. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Salt Lake City.