|Conservation status||Atlantic Coast race (Heath Hen) became extinct in 1932; Texas coast race (Attwater's) is seriously endangered. Loss of habitat is single greatest threat to remaining populations in interior.|
|Family||Pheasants and Grouse|
|Habitat||Native tall-grass prairie. Prime original habitat apparently was where prairie was intermixed with oak woodland. Currently found in areas of tall-grass prairie (especially native prairie, now a rare type), including places where such habitat is interspersed with agricultural fields.|
Forages mostly on the ground, occasionally in trees. Most feeding in early morning and evening.
Usually 10-12, sometimes 7-17. Olive to pale buff, speckled with dark brown. Incubation is by female only, 23-25 days. Young: Follow female away from nest shortly after hatching. Young find all their own food. Can make short flights at about 2 weeks, stronger flights at 3 weeks. Young usually remain with female for almost 3 months.
Follow female away from nest shortly after hatching. Young find all their own food. Can make short flights at about 2 weeks, stronger flights at 3 weeks. Young usually remain with female for almost 3 months.
Mostly seeds, leaves, insects. Winter diet is mostly leaves and seeds, also waste grain in agricultural fields. Historically, may have eaten many acorns in winter, and still may do so where they are available. In summer eats a variety of leaves, buds, seeds, berries, and insects. Young birds eat more insects.
In spring, males gather on "booming grounds" and display there to attract females. Booming ground often on low hill, with good visibility; typically 8-20 males present, exceptionally up to 70. In display, male lowers head and raises tail, inflates air sacs on neck, raises feather tufts, stamps feet rapidly while making hollow moaning sounds; may leap in the air with loud cackles. Female visits booming ground, mates with one of the males. Nest site is on ground, among thick tall grass. Nest (built by female) is shallow depression lined with grass, leaves, feathers.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
Learn more about these drawings.
Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
Download Our Bird Guide App
Some individuals are permanent residents, others may move between breeding and wintering areas, traveling as much as 100 miles. No obvious or consistent differences in habitat between breeding and wintering sites.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for over 450 bird species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsHollow "booming" call during display; also cackles and clucks.
Learn more about this sound collection.
How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Greater Prairie-Chicken
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.
Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.
Climate threats facing the Greater Prairie-Chicken
Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.