Lesser prairie chicken

Lesser prairie chicken
A lesser prairie chicken in New Mexico
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Subclass: Neornithes
Infraclass: Neognatha
Superorder: Galloanserae
Order: Galliformes
Family: Phasianidae
Subfamily: Tetraoninae
Genus: Tympanuchus
Species: T. pallidicinctus
Binomial name
Tympanuchus pallidicinctus
(Ridgway, 1873)
Lesser prairie chicken range[2]
Enlarged distribution map.[2][3]

Tympanuchus cupido pallidicinctus

The lesser prairie chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus), a species in the grouse family, is slightly smaller and paler than its near relative the greater prairie chicken. About half of its current population lives in western Kansas, with the other half in the sandhills and prairies of western Oklahoma, the Texas Panhandle including the Llano Estacado, eastern New Mexico, and southeastern Colorado.

Like its larger relative, it is known for its lekking behavior.

Considered "vulnerable" by the IUCN due to its restricted and patchy range, it is vulnerable to habitat destruction.[4] There is evidence suggesting that global warming may have a particularly detrimental influence by greatly reducing the size of the sagebrush ecosystem.[5] Subfossil remains are known, e.g., from Rocky Arroyo in the Guadalupe Mountains, outside the species' current range but where more habitat existed in the less humid conditions in the outgoing last ice age. Range contraction apparently took place no later than about 8000 BC.

The United States Department of the Interior has proposed creating a Lesser Prairie Chicken Preserve as a National Monument, but it remains controversial, and President Barack Obama has not taken action on the proposal under the Antiquities Act of 1906 as of February 2010.[6] On March 27, 2014, the lesser prairie chicken was listed as threatened (T) under the Endangered Species Act.[7]

In 2015, Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan) introduced an amendment to legislation authorizing construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline that would overturn the listing. He disputed the listing as, "... another example of unnecessary intrusion into private lives and businesses by the federal government.” His action as supported by the American Energy Alliance, and opposed by the League of Conservation Voters.[8]

When the Senate voted on the Keystone bill, it did not get the 60 votes in favor that was required to pass. It got only 53 Republican and 1 Democratic Senator to vote in favor.[8]

The bird was featured in an episode of the TV series Dallas titled "Playing Chicken", which aired on March 10, 2014. Bobby Ewing reminds John Ross Ewing that drilling for oil on Southfork would threaten the bird's natural habitat.[9]


  1. BirdLife International (2012). "Tympanuchus pallidicinctus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  2. 1 2 BirdLife International and NatureServe (2014) Bird Species Distribution Maps of the World. 2012. Tympanuchus pallidicinctus. In: IUCN 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. http://www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded on 09 July 2015.
  3. National Geophysical Data Center, 1999. Global Land One-kilometer Base Elevation (GLOBE) v.1. Hastings, D. and P.K. Dunbar. National Geophysical Data Center, NOAA. doi:10.7289/V52R3PMS [access date: 2015-03-16]
  4. BirdLife International (2004). "Tympanuchus pallidicinctus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2006. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 31 May 2008.
  5. Youth, Howard (2007). "Lekkin' Grouse on the Prairie". Zoogoer March/April 2007. National Zoo. Retrieved 2008-05-31.
  6. Kirk Johnson (February 20, 2010). "In the West, 'Monument' is a Fighting Word". New York Times. p. A8. Retrieved 2012-08-15.
  7. "U.S. lists lesser prairie chicken as threatened, energy groups wary". Reuters: Environment. Reuters. Retrieved 28 March 2014.
  8. 1 2 Sheppard, Kate. "Keystone, Meet The Grouse Wars." Huffington Post. January 28, 2015. November 19, 2015.
  9. http://tvlistings.zap2it.com/tv/dallas-playing-chicken/EP014812240030?aid=zap2it
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