Natural History

Prairie Chicken

posted: 05/10/13
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GREATER PRAIRIE CHICKENS, Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, Kansas | Photo Caption: Excerpted from North America: A World In One Continent by Huw Cordey | ARKive Animal Profile: Greater Prairie Chicken
Nick Lyon

The greater prairie chicken is a medium-sized, stocky game bird. A member of the grouse family, it was once abundant throughout the plains areas but, like so many other prairie species, is now rare and endangered.

Male prairie chickens indulge in an elaborate mating ritual called booming, in which they raise their head feathers, inflate their neck patches like little orange balloons, snap their tails, and stamp to impress the females. The booming noise they make, amplified by their air sacks, can be heard half a mile away. The males battle with one another in special courtship areas known as "leks" to win the attention of the females.

EXPLORE THE GREAT PLAINS: American Bison | Prairie Dog | Red Fox | Ferruginous Hawk | Pronghorn | Jumping Spider | Bobcat | Prairie Chicken | Burrowing Owl | Pocket Gopher | Snow Goose | All North American Animals

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