Greater Prairie-Chicken Life History


Habitat GrasslandsOpen prairie and oak savannah.Back to top


Food SeedsLeaves, seeds, buds, cultivated grains, and insects.Back to top


Nest Placement

Nest Ground

Nesting Facts
Condition at Hatching:Downy and able to follow mother.
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Behavior Ground ForagerMultiple males display at group display site, known as a lek.Back to top


Conservation DecliningGreater 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. Back to top


Johnson, Jeff A., Michael A. Schroeder and Leslie A. Robb. 2011. Greater Prairie-Chicken (Tympanuchus cupido), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

North American Bird Conservation Initiative. 2014. The State of the Birds 2014 Report. US Department of Interior, Washington, DC, USA.

Partners in Flight (2017). Avian Conservation Assessment Database. 2017.

Sauer, J. R., J. E. Hines, J. E. Fallon, K. L. Pardieck, Jr. Ziolkowski, D. J. and W. A. Link. The North American Breeding Bird Survey, results and analysis 1966-2013 (Version 1.30.15). USGS Patuxtent Wildlife Research Center 2014b. Available from

Sibley, D. A. (2014). The Sibley guide to birds, second edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, USA.

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