Lesser prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus)

loading
Adult male lesser prairie-chicken on a lek
loading
Loading more images and videos...

Lesser prairie-chicken fact file

Lesser prairie-chicken description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAves
OrderGalliformes
FamilyPhasianidae
GenusTympanuchus (1)

The lesser prairie-chicken is a gamebird that occupies the American prairies. It is a sandy colour with brown barred markings (2). There are yellow wattles of bare skin above the eyes (3). The red air sacs on the side of the throat are particularly prominent in males, who also have longer neck-plumes (3). The pale colours provide camouflage in the sandy grasslands of their habitat (2).

Also known as
lesser prairie chicken.
Spanish
Gallo de las Praderas Chico.
Size
Length: 40 – 45 cm (2)
Weight
0.73 kg (2)
Top

Lesser prairie-chicken biology

In April, male lesser prairie-chickens compete for access to females via a lekking system. Males gather in a display ground known as a ‘lek’ and perform elaborate courtship displays before the female selects her mate (2). These displays involve inflating the red throat sacs, raising the neck and tail feathers and making short jumps into the air (2). Following mating, the male takes no further part in the care of his offspring. Females lay a clutch of 12 – 15 eggs in a nest hidden amongst the grass and incubate them for around one month (2).

Lesser prairie-chickens feed on a variety of items including seeds, grain and insects in the warmer months (3). If the winter is particularly harsh, these birds will burrow into the snow to provide warmth (2).

Top

Lesser prairie-chicken range

The lesser prairie-chicken still occurs in much of its former range including Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico, United States (2). Population numbers have declined by as much as 97% since the beginning of the 19th century (2).

Top

Lesser prairie-chicken habitat

Inhabits prairie grasslands where there is shinnery oak (Quercus havardii) or sand sagebrush (Artemisia filifolia) (3).

Top

Lesser prairie-chicken status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2002 (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable

Top

Lesser prairie-chicken threats

The conversion of vast areas of the American plains into farmland has caused the decline of a number of native species, including the lesser prairie-chicken (2). These birds were also hunted in unsustainable numbers in the early 20th century and reduced populations are more vulnerable to extreme weather conditions such as drought (3).

Top

Lesser prairie-chicken conservation

The lesser prairie-chicken is protected within all states that it occurs in (3), and it is a Candidate Species for listing as Threatened on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Endangered Species Act (4). Research into the causes of recent population declines is being undertaken (2). Reintroduction programmes have also been attempted but so far have proven unsuccessful (3).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
Top

Find out more

For further information on this species see NatureServe:
http://www.natureserve.org/explorer/servlet/NatureServe?searchName=Tympanuchus+pallidicinctus

For more information on this and other bird species please see:

Top

Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

Top

Glossary

Lekking
A system of mating in which males display collectively in an area known as a lek. Males compete for the best sites within the lek and females then choose whom to mate with on the basis of the display.
Top

References

  1. IUCN Red List (August, 2003)
    http://www.redlist.org
  2. NRCS Wildlife Habitat Management Institute (May, 2007)
    http://www.westgov.org/wga/initiatives/HighPlains/leaflet.htm
  3. Birdlife International (May, 2007)
    http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/species/index.html?action=SpcHTMDetails.asp&sid=303&m=0
  4. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (August, 2003)
    https://ecos.fws.gov/speciesProfile/SpeciesReport.do?spcode=B0AZ
X
Close

Image credit

Adult male lesser prairie-chicken on a lek  
Adult male lesser prairie-chicken on a lek

© Gerrit Vyn / naturepl.com

Nature Picture Library
5a Great George Street
Bristol
BS1 5RR
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 117 911 4675
Fax: +44 (0) 117 911 4699
info@naturepl.com
http://www.naturepl.com

X
Close

Link to this photo

ARKive species - Lesser prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) Embed this ARKive thumbnail link ("portlet") by copying and pasting the code below.

Terms of Use - The displayed portlet may be used as a link from your website to ARKive's online content for private, scientific, conservation or educational purposes only. It may NOT be used within Apps.

Read more about

X
Close

MyARKive

MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.

X
Close

Listen to the Lesser prairie-chicken

Adult male lesser prairie-chicken on a lek
Adobe Flash is required to play this recording

Lesser prairie-chicken recordings by Geoffrey A. Keller

© Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Macaulay Library
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
159 Sapsucker Woods Road
Ithaca
New York 14850
United States of America
Tel: +1 (607) 254-2404
Fax: +1 (607) 254-2439
Email: macaulaylibrary@cornell.edu
Website: www.birds.cornell.edu/MacaulayLibrary

Play the Team WILD game:

Team WILD, an elite squadron of science superheroes, needs your help! Your mission: protect and conserve the planet’s species and habitats from destruction.

Conservation in Action

Which species are on the road to recovery? Find out now »

This species is featured in:

This species is affected by global climate change. To learn about climate change and the species that are affected, visit our climate change pages.

Help us share the wonders of the natural world. Donate today!

Blog