Greater Prairie Chicken (Tympanuchus cupido)

Image of Male Greater Prairie Chicken mount.
Image of Female Greater Prairie Chicken mount.
On the brink of extinction

The Greater Prairie Chicken was once abundant in Illinois. Due to severe habitat loss, populations of the Prairie Chicken went from an estimated 10 million in the mid 1800s to less than 200 individuals today. This species does not migrate. In Illinois, two nature preserves have been established to preserve the tall grass prairie habitat that Prairie Chicken populations need to survive – the Jasper County Prairie Chicken Sanctuary and the Marion County Prairie Chicken Sanctuary.

Males perform mating dances known as “lekking,” fanning out their feathers, inflating the air sacks on their necks, and making booming sounds to attract mates. Females' feathers are highly camouflaged, which gives them additional protection while nesting on the ground. Here are male and female mounted specimens of the Greater Prairie Chicken, both collected from Geneva, Illinois, prior to 1891.