Photo: G. Lasley/Vireo

Priority Bird

Lesser Prairie-Chicken

Tympanuchus pallidicinctus

A little smaller and paler than the Greater Prairie-Chicken, this grouse is adapted to arid short-grass regions of the southern Great Plains. At one time it was abundant in this region, but it has declined seriously, and is now an uncommon bird found in a few local concentrations.
Conservation status Has disappeared from most of former range and is probably still declining; considered to be threatened. Biggest problem is conversion of natural prairie to farmland.
Family Pheasants and Grouse
Habitat Sandhill country, sage and bluestem grass, oak shinnery. Found in sandy short-grass prairie regions with scattered shrubs such as sand sage. Often found around stands of low, scrubby oaks (Havard and Mohr's oak, also called "shin oak"). Regularly comes to agricultural fields to feed on waste grain, but disappears from areas where too much of native prairie is taken over by farmland.
A little smaller and paler than the Greater Prairie-Chicken, this grouse is adapted to arid short-grass regions of the southern Great Plains. At one time it was abundant in this region, but it has declined seriously, and is now an uncommon bird found in a few local concentrations.
Photo Gallery
  • adult male, displaying
  • adult female
  • adult male
  • adult female
Feeding Behavior

Forages mostly on ground, sometimes above ground in oaks. May move several miles every day from roosting areas to good feeding sites.


Eggs

usually 11-13. Whitish to pale buff, finely speckled with brown and olive. Incubation is by female only, 22-24 days. Young: Downy young leave nest shortly after hatching. Female tends young, but young feed themselves. Young are able to make short flights at age of 1-2 weeks, but are not full-grown for several more weeks.


Young

Downy young leave nest shortly after hatching. Female tends young, but young feed themselves. Young are able to make short flights at age of 1-2 weeks, but are not full-grown for several more weeks.

Diet

Includes seeds, acorns, insects, leaves. Diet varies with season. Eats seeds and leaves of a wide variety of plants, including oak leaves and acorns. May eat much waste grain around agricultural fields in fall and winter. Eats many insects, including grasshoppers and beetles, especially in summer. Also eats some flowers, twigs, oak galls.


Nesting

In spring, at dawn and again in evening, males gather on "booming grounds" and display there to attract females. Booming ground on slight rise or level open ground, with good visibility. In display, male raises feather tufts on neck, stamps feet rapidly while making hollow gobbling sounds; may leap in the air with loud cackles. Female visits booming ground, mates with one of the males. Nest site is on ground, usually under a shrub or clump of grass. Nest (built by female) is shallow depression lined with a few bits of grass, weeds.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

No regular migration, but some may move many miles between summer and winter ranges.

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Migration

No regular migration, but some may move many miles between summer and winter ranges.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
Various cackling and clucking notes; male gives booming call during courtship.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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How climate change could affect this bird's range

In the broadest and most detailed study of its kind, Audubon scientists have used hundreds of thousands of citizen-science observations and sophisticated climate models to predict how birds in the U.S. and Canada will react to climate change.

Learn more

Read more: climate.audubon.org
Phasianidae, Pheasants and Grouse Upland Ground Birds

Lesser Prairie-Chicken

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season.

More on reading these maps.

Each map is a visual guide to where a particular bird species may find the climate conditions it needs to survive in the future. We call this the bird’s “climatic range.”

The colors indicate the season in which the bird may find suitable conditions— blue for winter, yellow for summer (breeding), and green for where they overlap (indicating their presence year-round).

The darker the shaded area, the more likely it is the bird species will find suitable climate conditions to survive there.

The outline of the approximate current range for each season remains fixed in each frame, allowing you to compare how the range will expand, contract, or shift in the future.

The first frame of the animation shows where the bird can find a suitable climate today (based on data from 2000). The next three frames predict where this bird’s suitable climate may shift in the future—one frame each for 2020, 2050, and 2080.

You can play or pause the animation with the orange button in the lower left, or select an individual frame to study by clicking on its year.

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season. More on reading these maps.
Winter
Summer

Winter Range
Summer Range
Both Seasons
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