Author(s): Jennifer R Bruce, W Douglas Robinson, Steven L Petersen, Richard F Miller
Greater Sage-Grouse ( Centrocercus urophasianus ) depend on sagebrush habitat for food and cover during winter, yet few sage-grouse winter ecology studies have been conducted. During January and February 2007, we monitored 22 radio-collared sage-grouse (7 females and 15 males) in central Oregon to characterize winter habitat use and movement patterns. We estimated distances traveled between locations on a weekly basis and quantified habitat characteristics at loca- tions used by male and female sage-grouse. The birds we collared moved extensively across the landscape, using approxi - mately 1480 km 2 . Sagebrush canopy height in sites used by sage-grouse varied from 0.25 to 0.75 m, with females tending to be found in sites with taller sagebrush and less foliar cover than in sites where we found males. The difference in foliar cove r between sexes was related to a seasonal change in habitat use: 4 females found in little sagebrush ( Artemisia arbuscula ) in January and early February were no longer located nor found foraging in little sagebrush after 15 February. Also, by this date, most male sage-grouse had stopped using big sagebrush ( Artemisia tridentata ) as they migrated to leks. Sage-grouse mortality rates were low during our study, which may be attributed to the study area receiving half the long-term average amount of snow. The large area over which sage-grouse moved during winter indicates that conservation of Greater Sage-Grouse may require preservation of sagebrush at landscape scales (thousands of square kilometers).