Lesser Prairie-Chicken

photo by Phil Swanson

Tympanuchus pallidicinctus
L 16″(41 cm).

Song or calls:
Higher pitched “booming” than in Greater Prairie-Chicken.

Description: Mottled brown body with black and brown bars. Reddish air sacs on both sides of neck. Round black tail. Yellow eye combs. Black erectile feathers on nape. Female is similar, but tail is brown and lacks yellow eye combs and red air sacs.

Habitat: Short-grass prairies.

Where in Nebraska: Extirpated from Nebraska since early 1900’s.

Status: Population is declining due to dwindling of prairie habitat.

Fun Facts: Lesser Prairie-chickens use a lek-mating system, where the males defend and dance on a territory that holds no valuable resources to attract females.

Lesser Prairie Chicken lek - Phil Swanson male Lesser Prairie Chicken - Phil Swanson
(click image for larger view)