Merlin

Greater Prairie-Chicken

Silhouette Game BirdsGame Birds

Greater Prairie-Chicken

Tympanuchus cupido
  • ORDER: Galliformes
  • FAMILY: Phasianidae
Basic Description

Few performances in the bird world are more memorable than the dawn display of Greater Prairie-Chickens at their booming ground, or lek—the traditional spot where males dance, call, and try to impress females with their vigor. When displaying, the males erect earlike plumes on the head and blow up bright orange air sacs on the neck, transforming themselves from brownish chickenlike birds into brightly colored performers, all the while drumming with their feet and producing whooping and cackling calls.

More ID Info
image of range map for Greater Prairie-ChickenRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

Find This Bird

For most of the year, Greater Prairie-Chickens live inconspicuously in brushy areas of the Great Plains and prairies, where their plumages and habits keep them well concealed. The best place to see them is on their leks, but because of the sensitivity of these locales, it’s best to join an organized trip to a booming ground between late March and early May. Outings with bird clubs or tour groups are widely advertised. Participation requires a very early departure in order to be in place (usually in a blind) before dawn.

Other Names
  • Gallo de Las Praderas Grande (Spanish)
  • Tétras des prairies (French)
  • Cool Facts

Looking for ID Help?

Get Instant ID help for 650+ North American birds.

Try Merlin Bird ID