Greater Prairie Chicken

Greater Prairie Chicken Tympanuchus cupido

Type of Animal:

Open expanses of short cover, burned areas, cropland, prairie, agricultural land/cropland mixed w/ prairie, grassland, forb/mixed grass-forb habitats, disturbed areas w/ ample food, oak woodland intermixed w/ prairie, dense brush patches, open elevated flat areas, savanna, coastal plains

Formerly found in S Canada (S Alberta, S Saskatchewan, S Manitoba, S Ontario) & C & Midwest US as well as in extreme NE Tamaulipas in Mexico. Currently found in pockets of C & Midwest US & S Canada.

Stocky medium-large chicken-like bird w/ short rounded tails. Cocks larger w/ orange to yellow-orange comb-like feathers over eyes & dark elongated head feathers, orange circular un-feathered neck patch. Hens smaller w/ shorter head feathers, lacking neck patch/comb

Leaves, seeds, buds, acorns, fruit, grasses, greens, grains, berries, insects, insect larvae, spiders

Status in Wild:

Reintroductions/repopulation into parts of former & current range. 

Flocks of 10-200 birds. Males gather in leks (breeding aggregations) during breeding season. Hens raise chicks on their own, sometimes joining other hens & chicks. 

Additional Info:

Male: Cock/Boomer
Female: Hen
Young: Chick
Group: Flock

Male: 2.25 lbs
Female: 2 lbs

1 month

Life Span:
2-5 years

Male: 1.5 ft
Female: 1.46 ft

Body Length:
1.4 ft, same for both sexes

Tail Length:
Male: 0.5 in
Female: 0.4 in

Main predators of adults are raptors, bobcats, coyotes, foxes, & badgers. Snakes, raccoons, skunks, crows, rats, opossums, & ground squirrels prey on chicks. 

These grouse almost went extinct in 1930s due to habitat loss & overhunting. 

These large grouse often compete w/ ring-necked pheasants, who disrupt them at breeding sites & parasitize nests. 

Males called boomers due to deep booming sound made during breeding season. Besides booming, males jump & flutter at each other. Fights tend to be ritualized. Males strut/dance/call to hens. Prior to booming, males inflate throat sac & lower wings.

Breed from late March to early June.

Hens lay 5-17 eggs per clutch. 

Chicks become independent at 3 months. 

Each lekking male guards a patch of 100 square feet.

Nests are shallow bowl-shaped depressions.

While they spend most time on ground, they will fly into trees to gather food.

Reach sexual maturity at 9-10 months.

Fun Fact(s):
Besides being called boomers, they’re also called pinnated grouse.

Some leks/breeding grounds have been in use for more than a century.

These birds nonmigratory & dig into the snow, creating horizontal tunnels for themselves.

These birds have high mortality rates-50-60% of adults in given area die each year.

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