FWS Focus


The lesser prairie-chicken is a species of prairie grouse endemic to the southern and central high plains of the United States, commonly recognized for its feathered tarsi (legs), stout build, ground-dwelling habit, and lek mating behavior. The LEPC is closely related and generally similar in life history strategy, although not identical in every aspect of behavior and life history, to other species of North American prairie grouse (e.g., GRPC, Attwater’s prairie-chicken, sharp-tailed grouse, greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus), and Gunnison’s sage-grouse (C. minimus)). Plumage of the LEPC is characterized by a cryptic pattern of alternating brown and buff-colored barring and is similar in appearance, although somewhat lighter in color, to the GRPC. Males have long tufts of feathers on the sides of the neck, termed pinnae, which are erected during courtship displays. Pinnae are smaller and less prominent in females. Males also display brilliant yellow supraorbital eyecombs and dull reddish esophageal air sacs during courtship displays (Copelin 1963, p. 12; Sutton 1977, entire; Johnsgard 1983, p. 318). Lesser Prairie-Chickens are dimorphic in size, with the females being smaller than the males. Adult LEPC body length varies from 38 to 41 centimeters (cm) (15 to 16 inches [in]) (Johnsgard 1973, p. 275; Johnsgard 1983, p. 318), and adult body mass varies from 618 to 897 grams (g) (1.4 to 2.0 pounds [lbs]) for males and 517 to 772 g (1.1 to 1.7 lbs) for females (Haukos et al. 1989, pp. 271; Giesen 1998, p. 14).

Scientific Name

Tympanuchus pallidicinctus
Common Name
Lesser Prairie-Chicken
Lesser Prairie Chicken
FWS Category

Location in Taxonomic Tree

Identification Numbers



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