A Lesser Prairie-Chicken’s Year

Nick Richter photo

Female lesser prairie-chicken checks out displaying males on the lek. Nick Richter photo.

Follow lesser prairie-chickens through a year on the prairie.

Spring

0179NickRichter_tnIt’s before dawn on the lek, where male lesser prairie-chickens gather to compete with one another through dramatic displays, and where females scout for mates. The first hints of red and gold etch the dark morning sky as males begin to arrive from surrounding grasslands. Older, dominant males stake out prime display sites… Read More

Summer

0566AnnaWalkowiak_tnAs late May rolls into June, the Southern Great Plains erupts into greenery and springtime flowers. With that green-up comes the immense variety of insects and other invertebrates that eat those greening prairie plants — grasshoppers, leaf hoppers, caterpillars, beetles, and countless others. Perfect timing, as hungry lesser prairie-chicken… Read More

Fall & Winter

0351(DaveHaukos)AndrewStetter_tnAs insect populations dwindle in the fall, lesser prairie-chickens shift to a largely vegetarian diet of seeds, buds, and acorns (for lesser prairie-chickens that live in the shinnery oak country of the Texas Panhandle and eastern New Mexico). Researchers have observed that males will travel several miles from their leks to feed in grain fields in the winter (Campbell, 1972), though in general most lesser prairie-chickens seem to stay within a few miles of the lek at which they display and/or mate.