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Lesser Prairie-Chicken      


The lesser prairie-chicken is a medium-sized, grayish brown grouse. Food typically consists of foliage, seeds, grain, acorns, and insects. Birds flock in late autumn and early winter, and often feed in croplands. In spring and fall, adults congregate on leks where males engage in communal courtship displays at sunrise and before sunset (Leks are a traditional site commonly used year after year by males of certain species of birds (e.g., greater and lesser prairie-chickens, sage and sharp-tailed grouse, and buff-breasted sandpiper), within which the males display communally to attract and compete for female mates, and where breeding occurs). Dominant (usually older) males establish and defend territories in the central portion of the lek, whereas subordinate (typically younger) males are generally restricted to peripheral territories. Breeding occurs from mid-March to late May. Nesting is initiated from mid-April through late May, usually within two weeks of lek attendance, and hatching peaks from late May through mid-June.


Lesser prairie-chickens occupy sandhill habitats characterized by mixed-grass prairies, shinnery oak- sand bluestem and sand sage-bluestem plant communities. They are most commonly found in dwarf shrub-mixed grass vegetation, sometimes interspersed with short-grass and, in some cropland. Leks are usually found on slightly elevated areas with short vegetation.


The lesser prairie chicken ranges across eastern New Mexico, southeastern Colorado, southwestern Kansas, western Oklahoma, and west Texas. The lesser prairie chicken is considered to be non-migratory.


Lesser Prairie-Chicken