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Lesser Prairie Chicken - BirdForum Opus

Tympanuchus pallidicinctus
Displaying male
Photo by njlarsen
East of Roswell, New Mexico, April 2013


41cm (16"), wingspan: 63cm (25"), weight: 750gm (1.6lb). A typical grouse with rounded body, heavily barred in dark brown and white, tail darker than rest of upperside. Belly is lighter, and underside of wings almost all white. Male has a prominent orange eye-comb, and can show a large orange-red neck patch in breeding displays.

Similar Species

  • Greater Prairie Chicken is essentially identical in appearance, but averages slightly larger and darker. Most importantly for identification, it does not share range.
  • Sharp-tailed Grouse is more spotted than barred, has a long pointed tail instead of rounded, and occupies a disjoint range to the north.


Western Kansas, eastern Colorado, western Oklahoma, north-western Texas, and eastern New Mexico. This species is considered vulnerable by Birdlife due to population decline.


This is a monotypic species[1].


Arid Prairies, Mescalino sands


Forages among the sparse plants of its habitat for food. Prefers walking, but will take wing in a noisy burst, then a long glide, when threatened.


Includes insects, seeds, and leaves, catkins, and buds of forbs (broad-leaved plants) and cultivated crops.


Males display tirelessy at leks, fighting for dominance and position with other males to compete for females. Females scratch shallow, bowl-shaped depressions in the soil and line them with dried grasses, leaves, and feathers to serve as nests.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, B.L. Sullivan, C. L. Wood, and D. Roberson. 2013. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: Version 6.8., with updates to August 2013. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. wildlifehc.org
  3. Birdlife international species factsheet.

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External Links

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