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BIRD OF THE WEEK
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Tympanuchus cupido
HABITAT: Native prairie and oak savanna
The Greater Prairie-Chicken and Lesser Prairie-Chicken are famous for their unique mating dances performed on special display grounds, called leks, each spring. Their genus name, Tympanuchus, comes from the Ancient Greek; its meaning, “holding a drum,” refers to this bird’s booming calls, which are amplified by inflatable neck sacs.
Greater Prairie-Chicken populations declined to near-extinction over the past century, mainly due to habitat loss as native prairie was converted to farmland. Loss of genetic diversity, pesticides, and collisions with manmade structures also pose threats.