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Greater Prairie-Chicken

Tympanuchus cupido ORDER: GALLIFORMES FAMILY: PHASIANIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Vulnerable

A grouse of open grassland, the Greater Prairie-Chicken is known for its mating dance. Males display together in a communal lek, where they raise ear-like feathers above their heads, inflate orange sacs on the sides of their throats, and stutter-step around while making a deep hooting moan.

At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
16.9 in
43 cm
Weight
24.7–42.3 oz
700–1200 g
Other Names
  • Poule des prairies (French)

Cool Facts

  • The extinct Heath Hen was a distinct subspecies of the Greater Prairie-Chicken that was found in the scrub oakland and fire-created blueberry barrens of the East Coast. The last Heath Hens were confined to the island of Martha's Vineyard, off the coast of Massachusetts, where they went extinct in 1932.

Habitat


Grassland

Open prairie and oak savannah.

Food


Seeds

Leaves, seeds, buds, cultivated grains, and insects.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Condition at Hatching
Downy and able to follow mother.
Nest Placement

Ground

Behavior


Ground Forager

Multiple males display at group display site, known as a lek.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Vulnerable

Greater Prairie-Chicken populations have been stable, and even increased between 1966 and 2014, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 400,00, with 100% living in the U.S. Though the species appears to be doing better, decades of decline still puts it at risk, and it is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Greater Prairie-Chicken is a U.S.-Canada Stewardship speices, as well as a Tri-National Concern species. The species rates a 16 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. Greater Prairie-Chicken are on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List, which lists bird species that are at risk of becoming threatened or endangered without conservation action. The Eastern subspecies, known as the Heath Hen, went extinct in 1932. The Texas form, the Attwater's Prairie-Chicken, is critically endangered and at severe risk of extinction. This species is vulnerable to loss of prairie habitat through conversion to cropland. Domestic grazing animals also modify this birds' prairie habitat. Habitat fragmentation threatens this species, as does possible competition with the introduced non-native Ring-necked Pheasant.

Credits

Range Map Help

Greater Prairie-Chicken Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

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