Land Bird Conservation Plan Colorado  

Overview of Colorado
Physiographic Region 36

  • Grasslands
  • Lowland Riparian
  • Shore/Bank
  • Wetlands

  • Physiographic Region 62
    Physiographic Region 87
    Implementation Strategies
    Literature Cited

    Physiographic Region 36: Central Shortgrass Prairie

    Plains Sharp-tailed Grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus jamesi)

    Associated Species: Other species that may use habitat in a similar way and/or respond similarly to threats, management, and conservation activities include Virginia's Warbler, Indigo and Lazuli Buntings.

    Distribution: Sharp-tailed Grouse currently reside in an area that forms a triangle from east-central British Columbia southeast to southwestern Manitoba, and south in a narrowing band to eastern Colorado. In Colorado, birds of the subspecies jamesi reside in Douglas County, northern Weld County, and Logan County.

    Habitat Requirements: Plains Sharp-tailed Grouse inhabit a mix of tall and short grasses interspersed with stands of shrubs, including Gambel oak, threeleaf sumac, willows, and sand sagebrush, especially where the shrubs form a dense cover with a relatively open understory. The woody cover is especially important for brood cover. The Weld County population occupies CRP lands where tall grasses mix with shorter native species and agricultural fields.

    Ecology: Sharp-tailed Grouse migrate short distances to wintering grounds. Males begin frequenting leks in March, and nesting occurs soon after the females arrive in the area during the second half of April. Fledged young are present from late May through mid August. The diet consists of leaves, buds, and fruits of woody plants, and cultivated grains. Young birds consume significant amounts of animal matter, primarily insects, including grasshoppers, beetles, and ants.

    Management Issues and Conservation Recommendations: The overriding factor affecting populations in Colorado is habitat loss due to conversion to housing developments and, to a lesser extent, conversion to agriculture. Heavy grazing reduces cover used for nesting. Residual cover is especially critical, given the early nesting season. Identify and protect leks and surrounding vegetation; protected habitat should encompass 125 to 530 ha (315-1300 ac) or more. Management should follow the guidelines spelled out in the state recovery plan (Braun et al. 1992).

    Status and Reasons for Concern: The Plains Sharp-tailed Grouse is listed as Endangered in Colorado. BBS surveys do not adequately monitor this subspecies within the shortgrass physiographic area, and BBS data are too sparse for meaningful analysis of trends. This species is monitored by CDOW.

    Biological Objective: Increase the species' distribution and abundance, based upon results from CDOW monitoring programs.

    Selected References: Andrews and Righter 1992, Braun et al. 1992, Connelly et al. 1998, Kingery 1998, Prose 1987.

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