Greater Prairie Chickens
The Greater Prairie-Chicken, or Pinnated Grouse (Tympanuchus cupido pinnatus) has become extremely rare due to loss of habitat. One of the largest birds in the grouse family, these interesting-looking species have a famous mating ritual called “booming”.
Greater Prairie Chickens do not migrate and become very territorial and will go to lengths to protect their “booming grounds” or the flatland areas where they like to display their mating performances.
Breeding Greater Prairie Chickens create their nests in April, and only have one brood of chicks. A typical clutch size consists of 5-17 eggs. The eggs take 23-24 days to hatch. They usually hatch 5 to 10 chicks per brood. They reach sexual maturity by 1 year of age. Life expectancy is 2 to 3 years.
Juvenile birds (5-11 months old) are available from September through March.
For conservation purposes, many people want to raise Prairie Chickens for release. Please check with your state department of wildlife before purchasing as there may be restrictions.
Status in the wild: The Eastern Subspecies Heath Hen, Tympanuchus cupido cupido is extinct. The southern subspecies Attwater’s Prairie Chicken T. c. Attwater is very close to extinction. The Greater Prairie-Chicken Tympanuchus cupido pinnatus is found in the very fragmented area of the central US. They have had problems competing with Chinese Ringneck pheasants.
Status in aviculture: Raised in captivity, but are not very common.
Habitat: Tall grass prairie
Adult weight: Average 2-3 pounds