Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
HABITAT: Occupies a fairly vertical range in the western mountains, breeding at lower elevations in open stands of conifers or aspens with a brush understory, in meadows or in stands of mixed brush and herbs interspersed with bare ground adjacent to aspens or conifers. Males display in relatively open stands of trees or shrubs on earth mounds, rocks, logs, cutbanks, and occasionally tree limbs. During autumn, moves up from the open breeding range to stands of conifers or to timberline.
SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Medium to large forest openings; shrubs, grasses, and forbs for nesting.
NEST: Nests in a shallow depression on the ground, well-concealed near logs or rocks, at the base of a tree, under sagebrush, or in the shelter of chokecherry, aspen, or cottonwood.
FOOD: During winter, eats diet limited to needles and buds of conifers, especially Douglas-fir, but also other firs, hemlock, and lodgepole pine. In other seasons, eats berries, flowers and leaves of herbaceous plants, and insects. In warm weather seldom far from a source of water. Can obtain necessary water from succulent vegetation or berries, if available.
REFERENCES: Beer 1943, Bendell and Elliott 1966, Harju in Farrand 1983a, Johnsgard 1973, Rogers 1968, Terres 1980, Verner and Boss 1980.