Greater Prairie-Chicken
Tympanuchus cupido
The Greater Prairie-Chicken (Tympanuchus cupido) lives in some of the native prairie regions of the mid west United States from parts of Texas (Attwater's race), northern Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas. In some of those areas the species is still holding its own, but some populations have declined drastically in recent decades. Some shots of the endangered Attwater's Prairie-Chicken of coastal Texas may be seen here. The first 24 images shown on this page were taken in early April, 2008, from a blind on a prairie chicken lek near Dexter, Cowley Co., Kansas, with a Canon EOS 1D Mark III and EF 600mm F/4 L IS lens. A 1.4X extender was used in some of the shots. The first two shots show "booming" males in display. The birds inflate air sacs on the sides of the neck to create a haunting "boom" sound. They also cackle and in general do everything they can to try to impress a female.
This shot shows a booming male in the background while two other males engage in a battle. The males often make contact in their efforts to impress a female and drive other males from their particular patch of ground.
In this image a female sits passively, watching the males carry on.
The next series of images mostly shows males in battle action on a lek.
The male shown here posed nicely between battles.
The male birds can sometimes be extremely active during these bouts.
The male bird shown here took a break from battle to begin "booming" again.
As in another shot near the beginning of the page, one of the birds in the shot at right is biting the other bird.
The action of these fighting birds can be very difficult to capture with a camera. One problem is how high up one bird may jump. The shot at right illustrates the way may images look...just the feet of the top bird are visible, even though it is a vertical shot.
The lower bird in the shot on the right has a beak full of feathers from his opponent.