The Habitat

Andy Lawrence photo

Lesser prairie-chickens inhabit the Southern Great Plains, including parts of Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.

The less fragmented the prairie habitat, the better it is for lesser prairie-chickens. In other words, the fewer transmission lines, industrial operations, roads, trees, crop fields, and buildings interrupt the prairie landscape, the more hens are likely to nest there. Prairie-chickens avoid vertical structure — things that stand above the prairie grasslands — because predators hide behind and perch on such vertical structures, whether natural or constructed.

Bison at dawn on Ted Turner’s ZBar Ranch in western Kansas, home to lesser prairie-chickens. Ken Brunson photo.

Bison at dawn on Ted Turner’s ZBar Ranch in western Kansas, home to lesser prairie-chickens. Ken Brunson photo.

Lesser prairie-chickens also seek out habitat with complex and varied structure that meets their particular needs throughout the year, including mating, nesting and brood rearing, and over-wintering. Explore their year-round habitat needs.

Within the lesser prairie-chicken’s current range, scientists recognize four distinct vegetation types, each with its own particular characteristics and assemblage of plant species.

Explore our interactive map where you can click on the colored regions to learn about the different vegetative communities lesser prairie-chickens inhabit.