Lesser Prairie-Chicken

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Lesser Prairie-Chicken

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

The Lesser Prairie-Chicken is a pale grouse of the southern Great Plains, found only in prairie and agricultural land with shinnery oak and sand sagebrush. Once widespread and abundant, its numbers have crashed following heavy hunting in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and then conversion of its natural habitat to cropland and rangeland. Like its close relative, the larger, darker Greater Prairie-Chicken, male Lesser Prairie-Chickens gather in spring on “leks,” sites where males compete for females by performing spectacular displays.

More ID Info
image of range map for Lesser Prairie-ChickenRange map provided by Birds of the WorldExplore Maps

Find This Bird

Lesser Prairie-Chickens are very difficult to find in the vast open country (largely privately owned) of the southern Great Plains. Their pale plumage blends in well with their environment, and their low numbers makes them a proverbial needle in a haystack. Fortunately, since 2017, several ranches (some in partnership with The Nature Conservancy) have opened to the public during the spring lek season. For a small fee, bird watchers can see these spectacular birds at their leks, particularly in western Kansas in April.

Other Names
  • Gallo de Las Praderas Chico (Spanish)
  • Tétras pâle (French)
  • Cool Facts