Great Basin Naturalist


Sage Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) brood-habitat use was examined during 1992 and 1993 at the Yakima Training Center in Yakima and Kittitas counties, Washington. During the 2 yr we followed 38 broods, of which 12 persisted to 1 August ( = approximately 1.5 chicks/brood). Food forb cover was greater at all brood locations than at random locations. Hens with broods in big sagebrush/bunchgrass habitat (Artemisia tridentata/Agropyron spicatum) selected for greater food forb cover, total forb cover, and lower shrub heights; broods in altered big sagebrush/bunchgrass habitats selected greater tall grass cover and vertical cover height; broods in grassland showed no preference for any measured vegetation characteristics. During the early rearing period (post-hatching–6 wk) each year, broods selected sagebrush/bunchgrass. Broods in 1993 made greater use of grasslands than in 1992 and selected grassland during the late brood-rearing period (7–12 wk). Broods selected for sagebrush/bunchgrass during midday, but 52% of brood locations in the afternoon were in grassland. Tall grass cover was greater at morning (0500–1000 h) and afternoon (1501–2000 h) brood locations than at midday (1001–1500 h) and random locations. Midday brood locations had greater shrub cover and height than morning and afternoon locations. Selection of habitat components was similar to the results of other studies, but habitat conditions coupled with a possible lack of alternate brood-rearing cover types resulted in low survival of chicks.