Lesser Prairie-Chicken: Medium, stocky grouse, brown overall with fine white bars. Head has yellow-orange combs over eyes, plumes that can be raised or laid along the neck. Red-orange air sacs on sides of neck inflate during courtship. Tail is short, black, and rounded. Yellow-brown feathered legs.
Range and Habitat
Lesser Prairie-Chicken: Resident in southern Colorado and Kansas, south locally in western Oklahoma, Texas, and eastern New Mexico. Found in sandy grassland areas that have an abundance of midgrass, sandsage, and yucca.
The Lesser Prairie-Chicken was first described in 1873 by Robert Ridgway, an American ornithologist.
Subfossil remains are known from Rocky Arroyo in the Guadalupe Mountains, outside the species' current range but where more habitat existed in the less humid conditions in the outgoing last ice age.
They disappeared apparently no later than about 8000 BC, soon after the start of human settlement, which may also have contributed to the local extinction.
A group of prairie chickens are known collectively as a "little house" and a "pack" of prairie chickens.
The Lesser Prairie-Chicken is native to the United States. This bird species is rated as Vulnerable at this time. This rating is due to a population decline that has been rapidly declining for some time. The primary threats facing this bird species are drought and the loss of habitat. Although some portions of this bird's native range have increased in population, populations in parts of Texas and Oklahoma have continued to decline over the past several years. The Lesser Prairie-Chicken is still considered to be in danger, resulting in the current Vulnerable rating.