Family Tree

Photo courtesy of David Haukos

The lesser prairie-chicken is one of twelve native grouse species in North America.

The North American Grouse Partnership, an LPCI partner organization, offers an excellent introduction to the twelve species on its website.

Three of the twelve species are members of the genus Tympanuchus, or what are commonly called prairie grouse: the sharp-tailed grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus), the greater prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus cupido), and the lesser prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus).

The sharp-tailed grouse (Mark Peck), the greater prairie-chicken (USFSW), and the lesser prairie-chicken (Laura Erickson)

The sharp-tailed grouse (Mark Peck), the greater prairie-chicken (USFWS), and the lesser prairie-chicken (Laura Erickson)

USFWS photo

Guesser prairie-chicken. USFWS photo

In parts of western Kansas where greater and lesser prairie-chicken populations overlap, hybridization results in what researchers have nicknamed the guesser prairie-chicken, which bears traits of both its parent species.

Another of the twelve native grouse species has a special connection with the lesser prairie-chicken. The greater sage-grouse is the largest of North America’s grouse. Inhabitant of sagebrush country in eleven western states, the greater sage grouse is the focus of intensive conservation efforts. Like the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative, the Sage Grouse Initiative is an NRCS landscape conservation initiative that aims to increase populations of greater sage-grouse through sustainable ranching. Visit the Sage Grouse Initiative website to learn more.

Rick McEwan photo

Greater sage-grouse. Rick McEwan photo