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All About Birds
Prairie Chickens
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Attwater's Prairie Chickens (Tympanuchus cupido) are wild fowl that live in the grasslands and coastal prairies of North America. These noisy birds are strong fliers. They not closely related to chickens; they are a type of grouse. Prairie Chickens are in danger of extinction due to loss of habitat; much of their prairie habitat has been used for farming. Prairie Chickens do not migrate.

Anatomy: The Prairie Chicken is about 16.5 to 18 inches (42-46 cm) long and weighs roughly 1.5 to 2 pounds (0.7-0.9 kg). It has a 28 inch (70 cm) wingspan.

Diet: Prairie Chickens have a varied diet. They eat leaves, seeds, rose hips, and insects (like grasshoppers).

Reproduction: Prairie Chickens gather in small groups on short grass, bare ground, rock outcropping or hilly areas in order to choose a mate. In these areas, the females watch the males and choose their mate. This area is called a "booming ground" or a "lek." The males make a booming, "woo-woo" sound from a puffed-out, orange throat sac, and strut around to attract females. Some of the traditional dances of the North American Plains Indians are based on this booming display. Later, the hens build grass nests on the ground, hidden in tall grass. Hens lay about 12 eggs in a clutch. The eggs hatch in 25 days. Prairie Chickens have a life span of 2 to 3 years.

Predators: Many animals prey upon the Prairie Chicken. Predators include Red-tailed hawks, owls, skunks, coyotes, opossums, foxes, raccoons, and snakes.

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