The Greater Prairie
Chicken perform their spectacular booming displays every spring on traditional
sites, such as in the Fort Pierre National Grasslands near Pierre, where the
photo on the right was taken. Greater Prairie Chickens are much reduced in
range and in numbers due to the loss of native tall-grass prairies.
Habitat: Requires relatively undisturbed
prairie, originally living on natural tallgrass prairie. They can tolerate
a small amount of agricultural land interspersed with prairie, but generally
become less and less numerous as the percentage of agricultural land increases.
Diet: Primarily feeds on leaves, seeds, berries, and
waste grain in the winter, as well as acorns where available. In the
summer, these items are augmented by insects.
Behavior: Forages most often near dawn and dusk,
foraging on the ground most of the time, but also up in trees and shrubs.
Nesting: May and June
Song: Long, low hooting from male in display.
Both males and females also having clucking sounds.
Migration: Generally a permanent resident, although individuals may
move around within the same general area.
Status: The now Atlantic Coast race (the Heath
Hen) is now extinct. Other races such as the Texas Coast race (Attwater's) is
seriously endangered. Extirpated locally elsewhere, they are greatly
reduced in number and in range from their historical numbers. Numbers
continue to decline as grassland habitats are lost to human uses.
Cornell University's "All About Birds - Greater Prairie Chicken"
E-nature.com: Greater Prairie Chicken
Photo Information: March 21st, 2003 -- Richland
Dam, Fort Pierre National Grasslands --