Family Pheasants, Partridges, Turkeys, Grouse (Phasianidae)


Lesser Prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus)


French: Tétras pâle German: Kleines Präriehuhn Spanish: Gallo de las praderas chico

Cupidonia cupido var. pallidicincta


, 1873,

prairies of Texas near latitude 32° N, USA


Genetic differentiation among all three species of Tympanuchus is very weak, suggesting either that they evolved in isolation during Pleistocene but subsequent secondary contact and hybridization have obscured molecular differences, or that the ancestral species subdivided much more recently, e.g. during the Wisconsin glaciation, such that ancestral genetic polymorphisms remain identifiable#R. Present species is frequently considered a race of T. cupido. Monotypic.


SC USA, in SE Colorado, WC & SW Kansas, W Oklahoma, E New Mexico and W Texas. Historically perhaps also in extreme SW Nebraska.

Descriptive notes

38–41 cm; male 684–813 g, female 628–772 g; males heaviest in late winter before breeding, females in late spring before egg-laying. Tail blackish in larger... read more


As with T. cupido, mostly calls at leks. Vocalizations and postures very similar to those... read more


Arid grasslands with interspersed dwarf oaks and shrubs. Originally in two main plant communities... read more

Food and feeding

Similar to T. cupido, but with much higher percentage of insects, e.g. in Oklahoma, annual volume of insects 41·8–48... read more


Laying late Apr–May, hatching peaks late May to mid Jun; re-nesting attempts initiated mid May to early Jun, hatching mid Jun to... read more


Largely sedentary, with maximum movement between summer brood ranges and display grounds 4·6... read more

Status and conservation

VULNERABLE. Considered threatened by US Fish & Wildlife Service (1973). Like T. cupido pinnatus, present species increased temporarily with advent of agriculture... read more

Recommended citation

de Juana, E. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Lesser Prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 9 April 2020).