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Improving Lesser Prairie-Chicken Habitat

Improving Lesser Prairie-Chicken Habitat Through Revegetation and Rangeland Management - A Population in Peril

Lesser prairied-chicken on booming grounds in Texas

The lesser prairie-chicken, Tympanuchus pallidicinctus, is an upland, grassland-nesting bird native to regions of Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas. It is related to the sharptailed grouse and differs slightly from the greater prairie-chicken in color, size, and behavior, and significantly in range. The lesser prairie-chicken is best known for its unique spring courtship displays and gobbling grounds, also known as leks.

Lesser prairie-chicken populations and habitat have declined significantly since the 1800s. Populations are currently found in southeastern Colorado, southwestern Kansas, northwestern Oklahoma, portions of eastern New Mexico, and the Texas panhandle. Human influences such as the conversion of native rangelands to croplands, declines in habitat quality due to herbicide use, petroleum and mineral extraction activities, road and trail construction, fire exclusion (resulting in tree and woody plant invasion), and excessive grazing of rangelands all contributed to the decline of the lesser prairie-chicken. The continued loss and fragmentation of shrub/grassland habitat remains the greatest threat to the lesser prairie-chicken's future.

NRCS’ prairie chicken conservation efforts are part of Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW), the agency’s effort to accelerate conservation for at-risk and listed species while providing regulatory predictability for up to 30 years.

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