Gunnison Grouse

North America


Centrocercus minimus


  • Habitat loss

The Gunnison Grouse is a native North American bird species from the Phasianidae family and the first new avian species that was recorded in the USA since the 19th century. Its main habitat range is within sagebrush-dominated areas of Colorado and Utah.

Its most distinctive characteristic is its complex courtship rituals. The males engage in ‘lekking’, a competitive display of behaviour during the breeding season to attract females. This happens every morning and evening all throughout the spring season in open areas until the females select the best mate of their choice.

The endangerment of the Gunnison Grouse primarily stems from the disappearance of most of its natural range. Man-made activities such as drilling, livestock raising, motorised recreation, and infrastructure development has destroyed most of the sagebrush plants which are its main diet component and preferred cover. The remaining numbers are subject to inbreeding issues which increase the risk of contracting diseases such as the West Nile virus. Droughts, severe winters, and other problems brought by climate change and natural changes to the ecosystem all contribute to impeding population recovery as chick survival is difficult to sustain in these conditions.