Sharp-tailed grouse are a pale-brown colour with a black back. The sides and belly are speckled with black and white. In flight, the short pointed white tail distinguishes this bird from the ruffed grouse.
The cock has a yellow comb over the eyes. Two centre tail feathers extend beyond the rest of the short tail. These tail feathers give the sharp-tailed grouse its name.
It prefers open areas associated with logging cutovers, open brush flats, muskeg and agricultural fields, grasslands and shrublands.
In early fall, the birds are found in small family groups. By late fall, they have merged into large flocks containing as many as 100 birds.
The sharp-tailed grouse may often be seen feeding in grain or stubble fields in early morning. Later in the day, they commonly roost in trees. On cold, frosty mornings, they often sit motionless in tall trees or bushes. When flushed, the birds usually make a “clucking” sound as they fly away.
Sharp-tails eat seeds, berries and leaves of new plants, aspen, pin cherry, birch, dogwood, alder, raspberries and blueberries.