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2012-04-08
How many endemic birds in the Plains-Midwest, USA?


The Plains- Midwest USA has 3 endemic birds.

 

They are: -

 Attwater’s Prairie Chicken

Greater Prairie Chicken

Lesser Prairie Chicken

 

Attwater's Prairie Chicken

 

Attwater's Prairie Chicken - Tympanuchus cupido attwateri - is a highly endangered, endemic to the Western Gulf coastal grasslands.

Description

The Attwater's Prairie-Chicken is a member of the North American grouse family. It is slightly smaller and darker than its close relative the Greater Prairie-Chicken. These grouse-like ground birds have strong vertical bars of dark brown and buff-white in a zebra like pattern over the mantle, flanks, and underparts. The species exhibits sexual dimorphism, with the males having elongated feathers, called pinnae, erected to form earlike structures. The male also has as a bright orange to reddish air sac on either side of his neck, which he inflates during mating displays. The most colorful time of the year for Attwater's Prairie-Chickens is the spring when the males gather on "leks", large short grass areas on the coastal prairie. The males at this time inflate their air sacs, raise their tails in the air, droop their wings, and dance around, stomping their feet. This is accompanied by a low, mournful whirring sound called "booming". Intermittent jumps and charges at other males accompany the booming activity which reaches its peak when a female ventures into the lek.

Call

The male emits a booming, "woo-woo" sound from his throat sac.

Food

The diet consists of leaves, seeds, and insects.

Breeding

The mating display can be seen in January or February when the birds gather in small groups on short grass, bare ground, rock outcroppings or hilly areas in order to choose a mate. The hens build grass nests on the ground, hidden in tall grass, they usually lay 12 eggs during nesting season. The eggs hatch in April or May.

Conservation Status – Endangered

In 1900, one million Attwater's Prairie Chickens graced the coastal grasslands and in 1998 it was estimated that only 260 remained, with less than 60 living in the wild. Loss of habitat is believed to be the prime reason for their downfall. In 2003, there were fewer than 50 birds in the wild. In just 6 years, despite challenges including several major hurricanes, the population has reached 90 birds in three populations. These birds need your help.

Birdwatching

See these birds at the Attwater Prairie Chicken NWF near Eagle Lake, Texas or Texas City Prairie Preserve near Texas City.

 

 



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