Lesser Prairie-Chicken
Tympanuchus pallidicinctus
The Lesser Prairie-Chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) is a resident member of the grouse family in parts of north Texas, eastern New Mexico, and western Oklahoma and Kansas. This species is typically found in more or less arid native grasslands. Lesser Prairie-Chickens are declining in number due to habitat loss. During the spring, males of this species display and court females on a lek. The images on this page were shot from a blind on a lek in Lipscomb Co., Texas, in April, 2007 with a Canon EOS 1D Mark II and EF 500mm F/4 L IS lens. The male in the top 6 shots shown here was displaying just a short distance from our blind before sunrise. An amazing variety of cackles and booming noises may be generated from these birds as they inflate the reddish colored air sacs on the sides of their necks.
When the sun rises, a warm glow is cast over the grasslands and the chickens as they continue to display. The 2nd and 5th shots show a female who watched the males' display with a casual indifference.
The image shown here shows a view from the blind of part of the lek area with a normal lens. Below will be a couple of shots with males facing off. Sometimes these face-offs result in a brief battle between competing males, but on this day they just seemed to stare at one another for the most part.
In April, 2008, I made another visit to Lipscomb Co., Texas and was able to get some more shots of these birds. The next 11 images were all taken on that occasion with a Canon EOS 1D Mark III and an EF 500mm F/4 L IS lens. The males in the two images shown here were photographed just as the first light of dawn bathed the lek in a warm glow. The 3rd shot shows a sunrise over this prairie-chicken lek.
Two males face off in a dispute over territorial rights.
The male chicken in the next two shots took a perch up high in some tall grass.
Another female slowly walks through a lek.
Several male and female Lesser Prairie-Chickens on a lek with a nearby natural gas storage facility. If the landowners and the energy companies are good stewards and users of the habitat, such natural things as prairie-chickens can coexist with energy exploration.
The next 9 images were taken at the same spot as all the shots above, but these next 9 were taken in early April, 2009.
The male shown here is foraging while visiting the lek.
Several shots of displaying chickens at dawn are shown here and in the following images.