An omnivorous species, the sharp-tailed grouse feeds on a range of food items, with its diet varying depending on the location and season (2) (5). In spring and summer, its diet consists mainly of forbs, grasses, fruits, flowers and also insects (2). Buds, seeds, plant matter and fruit are eaten during the winter. This species is primarily a ground forager, but may also forage in trees and bushes (5).
The sharp-tailed grouse is a lekking species, with males gathering at lek sites in spring to perform spectacular courtship dances to attract the females, and in autumn to re-establish territories and dominance hierarchies (2) (5). Lek sites with short, sparse vegetation are preferred, and the males gather in the early morning and remain on the lek for two to three hours (5).
During the courtship dance, the male sharp-tailed grouse will adopt a bent-forward posture with the tail erect and throat sacs inflated, and will rush forward or in circles while stamping the feet, rattling the tail feathers and calling (2) (5). Between these bouts of movement, the male will freeze, and the males on a lek will often dance and freeze in perfect synchrony (2) (5).
Female sharp-tailed grouse visit the lekking sites between April and May, and an individual female may make up to ten visits and also visit multiple leks before selecting a mate (2). After mating, the female will construct a nest from moss, grasses, ferns and other plant material, and line it with more plant matter as well as breast feathers (2). The nest is often placed under small shrubs or trees, and the male plays no part in nest construction or raising the young (2).
Up to 12 eggs are usually laid, and these are incubated by the female for 21 to 23 days. The chicks are well developed, and can leave the nest a short time after hatching to forage with the female (2). While the female usually produces only one brood per year, a second breeding attempt may be made if the first brood is lost (2).
Outside of the breeding season, the sharp-tailed grouse is highly social and forms flocks of up to 30 individuals (2). It roosts on the ground or in trees, or, if the snow is sufficiently deep, in horizontal burrows beneath the snow. The sharp-tailed grouse does not undertake migrations, and generally its flights are less than 100 metres. This species is known to live for up to 7.5 years (2).