Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
A Good Year for the Attwater Prairie Chicken
Southwest Region, July 31, 2010
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Attwater's prairie chicken (APC) recovery efforts hit a new high in July when at least 54 APC chicks were raised in the wild at APC NWR.  That is a new record in recent years!  Because of extremely poor brood survival thought to be caused by a decline in insect availability during the chick's first seven to 10 days of life, refuge staff and Student Conservation Association (SCA) interns have intensely managed APC broods each spring since 2004 by catching live insects and feeding the hens and chicks every couple of hours for a two week period (Head Start project). 

With 23 nests hatching on APC NWR this year, personnel were unable to tend to each brood.  Seven broods, however, were "head started" and 79 chicks (89%) were released at two weeks of age.  Of the remaining 16 hens/broods not "head started," 10 hens raised chicks to two weeks of age on their own (62.5%).  This is very comparable to Greater prairie chickens in the wild (69%).  Preliminary data points to an extremely high number of insects this spring and summer on the refuge.  One hen in Goliad County had chicks at three weeks of age, but no chicks were produced at the Texas City Prairie Preserve this year.

A total of 182 captive-bred APCs were slated for release this summer.  Overall, egg production in captivity this year was the lowest of the last five years; however, overall chick survival was the highest to date.  Although 275 chicks were produced in captivity, an unusually high mortality of adult breeders this season required holding back more birds to replenish the captive population.  By the end of July, more than one third of the birds scheduled for release had been transferred to the release sites and/or already released into the wild.

This year's Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) program came to an end on July 30.  This year's four-person crew completed many important projects including the construction of APC acclimation pens for the captive-bred birds slated for release. 



Contact Info: Terry Rossignol, (979)234-3021, ext. 13, terry_rossignol@fws.gov
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