Lesser Prairie Chicken

Lesser Prairie Chicken

Lesser prairie-chicken

Kingdom
Phylum
Class
Order
Family
Genus
SPECIES
Tympanuchus pallidicinctus
Population size
22-41 thou
Life Span
1-5 yrs
WEIGHT
628-813 g
LENGTH
38-41 cm
WINGSPAN
63 cm

The Lesser prairie chicken a medium to large grouse, striped white and brown, slightly smaller and paler than its near relative the Greater prairie chicken. Like its larger relative, it is also known for its lekking behavior.

Di

Diurnal

He

Herbivore

Gr

Granivore

Fo

Folivore

Fr

Frugivore

Ca

Carnivore

In

Insectivores

Om

Omnivore

Te

Terrestrial

Ar

Arboreal

Pr

Precocial

Zo

Zoochory

Po

Polygyny

So

Social

Fl

Flocking

Do

Dominance hierarchy

No

Not a migrant

L

starts with

Distribution

Geography

Continents
Countries
Biogeographical realms

Lesser prairie chickens are found in western Kansas, western Oklahoma, the Texas Panhandle including the Llano Estacado, eastern New Mexico, and southeastern Colorado. These birds inhabit sandhills, prairies, shrubby areas, and often visit agricultural fields.

Lesser Prairie Chicken habitat map

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Lesser prairie chickens are gregarious and outside of the breeding season spend time in flocks. They are active during the day and spend most of the time on the ground. These birds do not migrate and live in their native range year-round using grasses and shrubs for food, shelter, and nesting. During cold winter months, they will burrow into the snow for shelter and warmth. They prefer to forage early in the morning and in the late afternoon; feeding occurs mostly on the ground but also in trees, especially in winter. To communicate with each other, Lesser prairie chickens use various cackling and clucking sounds; males are famous for their booming calls which they make during the breeding season.

Seasonal behavior
Bird's call

Diet and Nutrition

Lesser prairie chickens are both herbivores (granivores, folivores, frugivores) and carnivores (insectivores). They feed on various seeds, buds, leaves, acorns, fruits, some flowers, and cultivated grains. Insect prey usually includes grasshoppers, crickets, and beetles.

Mating Habits

MATING BEHAVIOR
REPRODUCTION SEASON
spring
INCUBATION PERIOD
24-25 days
INDEPENDENT AGE
8-10 weeks
FEMALE NAME
hen
MALE NAME
cock
BABY NAME
chick
BABY CARRYING
11-14 eggs

Lesser prairie chickens are polygynous meaning that one male mates with more than one female. With the start of the breeding season which usually occurs in spring, males establish display areas, called leks or booming sites where they defend small territories and display for the females. Females may visit several leks before mating and will accept only a few most dominant males; other males won't mate. After mating, the female selects a nest-site in a protected area where she will scratch a nest and line it with grasses and feathers. She will lay 11 to 14 eggs and incubate them for 24-25 days. The chicks are born fully-developed (precocial) with their eyes open; they are able to leave the nest a few hours after hatching and follow their mother to feeding areas. The female usually remains with her young about 8 to 10 weeks before they are ready to disperse.

Population

Population threats

Lesser prairie chickens are threatened by habitat loss due to destruction, fragmentation, and degradation. They are also vulnerable to changes in the climate and suffer from droughts.

Population number

According to the IUCN Red List, the total population size of the Lesser prairie chicken is around 22,000-41,000 individuals. Currently, this species is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on The IUCN Red List and its numbers today are decreasing.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • The Lesser prairie chicken was first described in 1873 by Robert Ridgway who was an American ornithologist.
  • Male Lesser prairie chickens produce their famous booming calls due to air-sacs which they inflate and make bubbly boom sounds.
  • The courtship display of Lesser prairie chickens is a magnificent sight that attracts tourists, bird enthusiasts, and even artists.
  • During courtship displays, females usually select males based on their vocal abilities.
  • Lesser prairie chickens have a very dense plumage and even their nostrils and legs are feathered; this all helps them stay warm during the cold winters and the feathers on their legs act like snowshoes when they move across the snow.

References

1. Lesser Prairie Chicken on Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lesser_prairie_chicken
2. Lesser Prairie Chicken on The IUCN Red List site - https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/22679519/131795740
3. Xeno-canto bird call - https://xeno-canto.org/363092

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