Greater prairie chicken

Last updated

Greater prairie chicken
Tympanuchus cupido -Illinois, USA -male displaying-8 (1).jpg
Male displaying in Illinois, USA
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Galliformes
Family: Phasianidae
Genus: Tympanuchus
Species:
T. cupido
Binomial name
Tympanuchus cupido
Subspecies

Tympanuchus cupido attwateri
Tympanuchus cupido cupido
Tympanuchus cupido pinnatus

Contents

Tympanuchus cupido map.svg
Distribution map of the Greater Prairie-Chicken.
Pale and dark green: pre-settlement
Dark green: current year-round
Synonyms

Tetrao cupidoLinnaeus, 1758

The greater prairie chicken or pinnated grouse (Tympanuchus cupido), sometimes called a boomer, [2] is a large bird in the grouse family. This North American species was once abundant, but has become extremely rare and extirpated over much of its range due to hunting and habitat loss. [2] Conservation measures are underway to ensure the sustainability of existing small populations. One of the most famous aspects of these creatures is the mating ritual called booming.

Bird Warm-blooded, egg-laying vertebrates with wings, feathers and beaks

Birds, also known as Aves or avian dinosaurs, are a group of endothermic vertebrates, characterised by feathers, toothless beaked jaws, the laying of hard-shelled eggs, a high metabolic rate, a four-chambered heart, and a strong yet lightweight skeleton. Birds live worldwide and range in size from the 5 cm (2 in) bee hummingbird to the 2.75 m (9 ft) ostrich. They rank as the world's most numerically-successful class of tetrapods, with approximately ten thousand living species, more than half of these being passerines, sometimes known as perching birds. Birds have wings which are more or less developed depending on the species; the only known groups without wings are the extinct moa and elephant birds. Wings, which evolved from forelimbs, gave birds the ability to fly, although further evolution has led to the loss of flight in flightless birds, including ratites, penguins, and diverse endemic island species of birds. The digestive and respiratory systems of birds are also uniquely adapted for flight. Some bird species of aquatic environments, particularly seabirds and some waterbirds, have further evolved for swimming.

Grouse subfamily of birds

Grouse are a group of birds from the order Galliformes, in the family Phasianidae. Grouse are frequently assigned to the subfamily Tetraoninae, a classification supported by mitochondrial DNA sequence studies, and applied by the American Ornithologists' Union, ITIS, and others. Grouse inhabit temperate and subarctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere, from pine forests to moorland and mountainside, from 83°N to 28°N.

Family is one of the eight major hierarchical taxonomic ranks in Linnaean taxonomy; it is classified between order and genus. A family may be divided into subfamilies, which are intermediate ranks between the ranks of family and genus. The official family names are Latin in origin; however, popular names are often used: for example, walnut trees and hickory trees belong to the family Juglandaceae, but that family is commonly referred to as being the "walnut family".

Description

Adults of both sexes are medium to large chicken-like birds, stocky with round-wings. They have short tails which are typically rounded. Adult males have orange comb-like feathers over their eyes and dark, elongated head feathers that can be raised or lain along neck. They also possess a circular, un-feathered neck patch which can be inflated while displaying; this, like their comb feathers, is also orange. As with many other bird species, the adult females have shorter head feathers and also lack the male's yellow comb and orange neck patch. Adults are about 16.9 in (43 cm) long, and weigh between 24.7–42.3 oz (700–1200 g). [3]

Subspecies

There are three subspecies;

Heath hen heath hen

The heath hen was a distinctive subspecies of the greater prairie chicken, Tympanuchus cupido, a large North American bird in the grouse family that became extinct in 1932. It is sometimes considered a separate species.

Attwaters prairie chicken subspecies of bird in the grouse family

Attwater's prairie chicken is a highly endangered subspecies of the greater prairie chicken that is native to coastal Texas and Louisiana in the United States.

Endangered species Species of organisms facing a very high risk of extinction

An endangered species is a species which has been categorized as very likely to become extinct. Endangered (EN), as categorized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, is the second most severe conservation status for wild populations in the IUCN's schema after Critically Endangered (CR).

Population and habitat

Greater prairie chickens prefer undisturbed prairie and were originally found in tallgrass prairies. They can tolerate agricultural land mixed with prairie, but fewer prairie chickens are found in areas that are more agricultural. Their diet consists primarily of seeds and fruit, but during the summer they also eat insects and green plants. These birds were once widespread all across the oak savanna and tall grass prairie ecosystem.

Prairie ecosystems considered part of the temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome

Prairies are ecosystems considered part of the temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome by ecologists, based on similar temperate climates, moderate rainfall, and a composition of grasses, herbs, and shrubs, rather than trees, as the dominant vegetation type. Temperate grassland regions include the Pampas of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, and the steppe of Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan. Lands typically referred to as "prairie" tend to be in North America. The term encompasses the area referred to as the Interior Lowlands of Canada, the United States, and Mexico, which includes all of the Great Plains as well as the wetter, hillier land to the east.

Tallgrass prairie ecosystem native to central North America

The Tallgrass prairie is an ecosystem native to central North America. Natural and anthropogenic fire, as well as grazing by large mammals, were historically agents of periodic disturbance, which regulates tree encroachment, recycles nutrients to the soil, and catalyzes some seed dispersal and germination processes. Prior to widespread use of the steel plow, which enabled conversion to agricultural land use, tallgrass prairies expanded throughout the American Midwest and smaller portions of southern central Canada, from the transitional ecotones out of eastern North American forests, west to a climatic threshold based on precipitation and soils, to the southern reaches of the Flint Hills in Oklahoma, to a transition into forest in Manitoba.

Fruit part of a flowering plant

In botany, a fruit is the seed-bearing structure in flowering plants formed from the ovary after flowering.

Conservation

The greater prairie chicken was almost extinct in the 1930s due to hunting pressure and habitat loss. In Illinois alone, in the 1800s the prairie chicken numbered in the millions. They were a popular game bird, and like many prairie birds, which have also suffered massive habitat loss, they are now on the verge of extinction, with the wild bird population at around 200 in Illinois in 2019. [4] They now only live on small parcels of managed prairie land. It is thought that their current population is approximately 500,000 individuals.[ citation needed ] In May 2000, the Canadian Species at Risk Act listed the greater prairie chicken as extirpated in its Canadian range (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario). [5] It was again confirmed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada in November 2009. [6] Nonetheless, sightings and encounters continue to occur in the south-central regions of Alberta and Saskatchewan, along with southern Ontario where sightings are extremely rare. [7]

Illinois State of the United States of America

Illinois is a state in the Midwestern and Great Lakes region of the United States. It has the fifth largest gross domestic product (GDP), the sixth largest population, and the 25th largest land area of all U.S. states. Illinois is often noted as a microcosm of the entire United States. With Chicago in northeastern Illinois, small industrial cities and immense agricultural productivity in the north and center of the state, and natural resources such as coal, timber, and petroleum in the south, Illinois has a diverse economic base, and is a major transportation hub. Chicagoland, Chicago's metropolitan area, encompasses over 65% of the state's population. The Port of Chicago connects the state to international ports via two main routes: from the Great Lakes, via the Saint Lawrence Seaway, to the Atlantic Ocean and from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River, via the Illinois Waterway to the Illinois River. The Mississippi River, the Ohio River, and the Wabash River form parts of the boundaries of Illinois. For decades, Chicago's O'Hare International Airport has been ranked as one of the world's busiest airports. Illinois has long had a reputation as a bellwether both in social and cultural terms and, through the 1980s, in politics.

Alberta Province of Canada

Alberta is a western province of Canada. With an estimated population of 4,067,175 as of 2016 census, it is Canada's fourth most populous province and the most populous of Canada's three prairie provinces. Its area is about 660,000 square kilometres (250,000 sq mi). Alberta and its neighbour Saskatchewan were districts of the Northwest Territories until they were established as provinces on September 1, 1905. The premier is Jason Kenney as of April 30, 2019.

In states such as Iowa and Missouri that once had thriving prairie chicken populations (estimated to be hundreds of thousands [8] ), total numbers have dropped to about 500. However, the Missouri Department of Conservation has started a program to import prairie chickens from Kansas and Nebraska in the hopes that they will be able to repopulate the state and increase that number to 3,000.

Central Wisconsin is home to approximately 600 individuals, down from 55,000 when hunting was prohibited in 1954.[ citation needed ] Though this area was predominately spruce and tamarack marsh before European settlement, early pioneers drained the marshes and attempted to farm the poor soil. As the prairies to the south and west were lost to agriculture and development, and the southern half of Wisconsin was logged, the prairies spread northward into the abandoned farmland. Today, over 30,000 acres are managed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources as greater prairie chicken habitat. Birdwatchers travel from around the world to visit Wisconsin in April for the Central Wisconsin Prairie Chicken Festival, started in 2006 by Golden Sands Resource Conservation & Development Council, Inc.

Threats

Greater prairie chickens are not threatened by severe winter weather. When the snow is thick they "dive" into the snow to keep warm. A greater threat to the prairie chickens comes in the form of spring rains. These sometimes drenching rains can wreak havoc on their chicks. Another major natural threat is drought. A drought can destroy food and make it difficult for the chicks.

Human interactions are by far the greatest threat. The conversion of native prairie to cropland is very detrimental to these birds. It was found in a radio telemetry study conducted by Kansas State University that "most prairie chicken hens avoided nesting or rearing their broods within a quarter-mile of power lines and within a third-mile of improved roads." (Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks) It was also found that the prairie-chickens avoided communication towers and rural farms.

After population bottleneck, human management of populations can also produce a loss of genetic variation and genetic diversity in the species. [9]

Sexual behavior

Tetrao cupido drawn by T. W. Wood for second edition of Darwin's The Descent of Man, 1874 Descent of Man - Burt 1874 - Fig 39.png
Tetrao cupido drawn by T. W. Wood for second edition of Darwin's The Descent of Man , 1874

Greater prairie chickens do not migrate. They are territorial birds and often defend their booming grounds. These booming grounds are the area in which they perform their displays in hopes of attracting females. Their displays consist of inflating air sacs located on the side of their neck and snapping their tails. These booming grounds usually have very short or no vegetation. The male prairie-chickens stay on this ground displaying for almost two months. The breeding season usually begins in the United States starting in Late March throughout April. During this time the males establish booming sites where they display for the females. The one or two most dominant males can obtain 90% of mating opportunities [10] . Due to their now small populations and habitat fragmentation the greater prairie chickens often undergo inbreeding causing observable inbreeding depression: with fewer offspring and a decreased survival rate within these limited offspring further aiding their population decrease.

After mating has taken place, the females move about one mile from the booming grounds and begin to build their nests. Hens lay between 5 and 17 eggs per clutch and the eggs take between 23 and 24 days to hatch. There are between five and 10 young per brood. (INRIN, 2005). The young are raised by the female and fledge in one to four weeks, are completely independent by the tenth to twelfth week, and reach sexual maturity by age one (Ammann, 1957). A study of female greater prairie chickens in Kansas found that their survival rates were 1.6 to 2.0 times higher during the non-breeding season compared to the breeding season; this was due to heavy predation during nesting and brood-rearing. [11] One problem facing prairie chickens is competition with the ring-necked pheasants. Pheasants lay their eggs in prairie-chicken nests. The pheasant eggs hatch first; this causes the prairie chickens to leave the nest thinking that the young have hatched. In reality the eggs did not hatch and the young usually die because the mother is not there to incubate the eggs.

See also

Related Research Articles

American bittern species of bird

The American bittern is a species of wading bird in the heron family. It has a Nearctic distribution, breeding in Canada and the northern and central parts of the United States, and wintering in the U.S. Gulf Coast states, all of Florida into the Everglades, the Caribbean islands and parts of Central America.

Golden pheasant species of bird

The golden pheasant or Chinese pheasant is a gamebird of the order Galliformes and the family Phasianidae (pheasants). The genus name is from Ancient Greek khrusolophos, "with golden crest", and pictus is Latin for "painted" from pingere, "to paint".

Western capercaillie species of bird

The western capercaillie, also known as the wood grouse, heather cock, or just capercaillie, is the largest member of the grouse family. The largest known specimen, recorded in captivity, had a weight of 7.2 kg (16 lb). The species shows extreme sexual dimorphism, with the male twice the size of the female. Found across Eurasia, this ground-living forest bird is renowned for its mating display. The worldwide population is in the category "least concern" of the IUCN, but the populations of Central Europe are declining and endangered or already extinct.

Ruffed grouse species of medium-sized grouse

The ruffed grouse is a medium-sized grouse occurring in forests from the Appalachian Mountains across Canada to Alaska. It is non-migratory. It is the only species in the genus Bonasa.

Sharp-tailed grouse species of medium-sized prairie grouse

The sharp-tailed grouse is a medium-sized prairie grouse. It is also known as the sharptail, and is known as fire grouse or fire bird by Native American Indians due to their reliance on brush fires to keep their habitat open. The Sharp-Tailed Grouse is the provincial bird of Saskatchewan.

Mikado pheasant species of bird

The Mikado pheasant is a gamebird in the pheasant family Phasianidae of the order Galliformes, gallinaceous birds. Sometimes considered an unofficial national bird of Taiwan, a pair of Mikado pheasants and Yushan National Park, one of the areas it is known to inhabit, is depicted in the 1000 dollar bill of the Taiwanese dollar.

Frances "Fran" Hamerstrom was an American author, naturalist and ornithologist known for her work with the greater prairie chicken in Wisconsin, and for her research on birds of prey. She was the only female graduate student of Aldo Leopold, an ecologist who wrote A Sand County Almanac. Hamerstrom was a prolific writer, publishing over 100 professional papers and 10 books on the prairie chicken, harriers, eagles, and other wildlife topics. Some were translated into German.

Western Gulf coastal grasslands

The Western Gulf coastal grasslands are a subtropical grassland ecoregion of the southern United States and northeastern Mexico. It is known in Louisiana as the "Cajun Prairie", Texas as "Coastal Prairie," and as the Tamaulipan pastizal in Mexico.

Blyths tragopan species of bird

Blyth’s tragopan or the grey-bellied tragopan is a pheasant that is a vulnerable species. The common name commemorates Edward Blyth (1810–1873), English zoologist and Curator of the Museum of the Asiatic Society of Bengal.

Lesser prairie chicken species in the grouse family

The lesser prairie chicken is a species in the grouse family. It is a medium to large bird, striped white and brown, slightly smaller and paler than its near relative the greater prairie chicken. Adults range from 15.0-16.1 in (38-41 cm) in length and 22.1-28.7 oz in weight.

Mrs. Humes pheasant species of bird

Mrs. Hume's pheasant, also known as Hume's pheasant or bar-tailed pheasant, is a large, up to 90 cm long, forest pheasant with a greyish brown head, bare red facial skin, chestnut brown plumage, yellowish bill, brownish orange iris, white wingbars and metallic blue neck feathers. The male has a long greyish white, barred black and brown tail. The female is a chestnut brown bird with whitish throat, buff color belly and white-tipped tail.

Gamebird hybrids are the result of crossing species of game birds, including ducks, with each other and with domestic poultry. These hybrid species may sometimes occur naturally in the wild or more commonly through the deliberate or inadvertent intervention of humans.

Hill partridge species of bird

The common hill partridge, necklaced hill partridge, or simply hill partridge is a species of bird in the pheasant family found in Asia.

<i>Tympanuchus</i> genus of birds

Tympanuchus is a small genus of birds in the grouse family. They are commonly referred to as prairie chickens. The genus contains three species:

<i>Centrocercus</i> genus of birds

The sage-grouse are the two species in the bird genus Centrocercus, C. minimus and Centrocercus urophasianus. They are distributed throughout large portions of the north-central and Western United States, as well as the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. C. minimus is classified as endangered on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature

Henry Philemon Attwater was a British-Canadian-American naturalist and conservationist.

References

  1. BirdLife International (2012). "Tympanuchus cupido". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature . Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  2. 1 2 Friederici, Peter (July 20, 1989). "The Last Prairie Chickens", Chicago Reader. Retrieved August 27, 2014.
  3. Cornell Lab of Ornithology. "Greater Prairie-Chicken Identification". All About Birds. Cornell University. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  4. Dampier, Cindy (May 8, 2019). "Stunning Illinois prairie chicken dance could soon be a thing of the past. Only 200 remain, but one family is fighting to save the species". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2019-05-11.
  5. "Species - Greater Prairie Chicken". Species at Risk Public Registry. Environment Canada. November 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-03.
  6. "Prairie-chicken wiped out in Canada". CBC News. December 3, 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-03.
  7. "Greater Prairie Chicken". The Canadian Biodiversity Website.
  8. Levitt, Aimee. "State conservationists scour the Kansas boondocks, aiming to repopulate Missouri with horny prairie chickens". The Riverfront Times . Retrieved May 11, 2016.[ permanent dead link ]
  9. Bellinger, M. Renee; Johnson, Jeff A.; Toepfer, John; Dunn, Peter (2003). "Loss of Genetic Variation in Greater Prairie Chickens Following a Population Bottleneck in Wisconsin, U.S.A". Conservation Biology. 17 (3): 717–724. doi:10.1046/j.1523-1739.2003.01581.x.
  10. [reference needed]
  11. Augustine JK, Sandercock BK (2011) Demography of female Greater Prairie-Chickens in unfragmented grasslands in Kansas. Avian Conservation and Ecology 6(1):2 ()