The Greater Sage-Grouse

The Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) is the largest North American grouse species and one of only two sage-grouse species in the world. The other sage-grouse species is the Gunnison Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus minimus).

Appearance

Greater Sage-Grouse males are large ground-dwelling birds that have large white ruffs around their neck and bright yellow air sacs on their breasts. Females are slightly smaller and are mottled brown, black and white. Both males and females have long pointed tails that are dark in color with white spots. Gunnison Sage-Grouse are one-third smaller than the Greater Sage-Grouse, with males having more white spots on their tails and denser ruffs on their necks.

 

Where they live

The Greater Sage-Grouse currently occurs in 11 states- California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming, Washington- and two Canadian provinces. Historically, the species occupied 13 states and three provinces, but habitat disturbance throughout its habitat has cut its historic range by 56%.  The Gunnison sage-grouse is located in Colorado and Utah.

The majority of Greater Sage-Grouse habitats occur on Federal surfaces totaling approximately 81.9 million acres. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages 52 percent of sage-grouse habitats, while the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) is responsible for management of approximately 8 percent of sage-grouse habitat. Roughly 31 percent of Greater Sage-Grouse habitat is in private ownership comprising  36.8 million acres.

Status

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined in 2010 that the Greater Sage-Grouse warranted protection under the Endangered Species Act, but precluded it from listing because of higher priority species. After various petitions, settlements, and scientific reports, the Greater Sage-Grouse is now designated as a candidate species with a final listing decision due in the fall of 2015. The Gunnison Sage-Grouse is on a different listing timeline, with a final listing decision due in the fall of 2014.

Appearance:

 The monarch is a large orange butterfly whose wings have prominent dark veins and two rows of white spots at the edges, and the body is dark. The wingspread ranges from 89 to 105 millimeters (about 3.5 to 4 inches). Males are bigger than females and have a visible dark spot over a vein on their hind wings.

Where they Live:

In North America the eastern population (east of the Rocky Mountains) migrate north to the United States and Canada in March from the mature oyamel fir forests in the mountains of central Mexico. The fall migration back to overwintering sites in Mexico is from August to November. The western population (west of the Rocky Mountains) travels inland to breeding areas throughout the west from February to March. They migrate to overwintering sites within 2.4 km of the California coast between Mendocino County and Baja, from September to November. They overwinter on eucalyptus trees (Eucalyptus globulus), Monterey pines (Pinus radiata), and/or Monterey cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa) at sites that are cool (but above freezing), sheltered from wind, with a moisture source and exposure to filtered sunlight. The lower slopes of valleys, bays and inlets support the largest numbers. Monarchs are typically found in open grass areas during the breeding season.

Status:

According to the USFWS, monarch populations across North America have declined by 80 percent over the past 20 years. Among the many potential reasons for population decline are loss of habitat at breeding and overwintering sites, pesticides, disease, timber harvesting at overwintering sites and climate change.

The low monarch wintering numbers in 2013 and 2014 resulted in an April 2014 statement of shared concern by leaders of the United States, Mexico and Canada. The monarch butterfly was specifically included in the 2014 Presidential Memorandum on pollinator conservation. Additionally, the FWS is conducting a status review to determine if protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is warranted for monarchs. A decision is expected to be announce in December, 2020. Updates for monarch ESA listing status can be found here.