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Male lesser prairie-chickens (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) battle each other for the prime spot on a lek near the Smoky Valley Ranch in Logan County, Kansas. Prairie chickens return to the same lek year after year to mate. Males attempt to entice female lesser prairie-chickens with a showy mating display on a lek.
In 2023, lesser prairie-chickens officially became a federally threatened species in Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, and northern Texas. The population in New Mexico and western Texas was given endangered status with about half of the current population living in western Kansas.
Lesser prairie-chickens are threatened by climate changes (drought or too much rain) and habitat loss. In particular, habitat loss caused by wind energy development. Prairie-chickens need large expanses of open grassland without tall objects (like wind turbines or power lines and power poles) that provide a raptor to perch on.
During courtship on a lek, males inflate their red esophageal air sacs and hold erect pinnae on each side of the neck. They rapidly stomp their feet making a drumming-like sound. The booming call of lesser-prairie chickens, amplified by the air sacs, can be heard as far as a mile away.
- Lesser prairie-chickens fighting.jpg
- © John L. Dengler
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America Kansas Logan County North America Smoky Valley Ranch The Nature Conservancy Tympanuchus pallidicinctus U.S. US USA United States United States of America animal animals aves avian bird birds booming grounds courtship dancing grounds fauna fowl-like birds gallinacean gallinaceous bird grassland grouse lek lesser prairie-chicken mating behavior mating display nature prairie prairie chicken scenery shortgrass shortgrass prairie spring water wildlife
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- Lesser prairie-chicken