Species Profile

Greater Prairie-Chicken

Scientific Name: Tympanuchus cupido
Taxonomy Group: Birds
Range: Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario
Last COSEWIC Assessment: November 2009
Last COSEWIC Designation: Extirpated
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Extirpated


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Quick Links: | Photo | Description | Habitat | Biology | Reasons for extirpation | Protection | Recovery Initiatives | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of Greater Prairie-Chicken

Greater Prairie-Chicken Photo 1

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Description

The Greater Prairie-Chicken is a medium-sized grouse with a barred plumage, a short round tail, and feathered toes. Narrow elongated feathers occur on an inflatable sac on both sides of the neck. These narrow elongated feathers, which function in the mating display, are poorly developed on the females.

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Distribution and Population

The Greater Prairie-Chicken has vanished from Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta. There were some 15 sightings in Saskatchewan between 1965 and 1977. This species is now considered extirpated from Canada, although the sightings from Saskatchewan indicate that some individuals may still occur in Canada, probably during migration. This species colonized the Prairie provinces and southern Ontario in the 1870s-1880s, from North Dakota and Minnesota. By 1900, an estimated one million or more Greater Prairie-Chickens were breeding in the Prairies. Today, the species' range extends from the Canadian Prairies to Texas and Louisiana.

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Habitat

The Greater Prairie-Chicken inhabits natural grasslands, open to fairly bushy; it will also use lightly grazed or ungrazed grasslands located near bushy natural grasslands.

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Biology

There is no information available on the breeding habits of Greater Prairie-Chickens in Canada. In the United States, breeding begins in April or early May. Nests are shallow depressions on the ground, lined with grass and other materials, and usually surrounded by tall grass or bushes. Clutches usually contain 11 or 12 eggs. The young are precocious (rapidly independent). This species has both high reproductive potential and high mortality.

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Reasons for extirpation

Lack of adequate habitat, namely extensive, ungrazed blocks of grassland, is the main limiting factor for Greater Prairie-Chickens. The conversion of natural grasslands to agriculture is ongoing.

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Protection

Federal Protection

The Greater Prairie-Chicken is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.

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Recovery Initiatives

Status of Recovery Planning

Recovery Strategies :

Name National Recovery Strategy for Greater Prairie Chicken (Tympanuchus cupido)
Status Approvals process initiated

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Documents

PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

8 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Greater Prairie-Chicken Tympanuchus cupido pinnatus in Canada (2010)

    The Greater Prairie-Chicken is a medium-sized grouse closely related to the Sharp-tailed Grouse. The Greater Prairie-Chicken is slightly larger than the Sharp-tailed Grouse and differs from the latter by barred underparts, rounded tail, presence of elongated dark neck feathers, and golden neck sacs in males.
  • COSEWIC Assessment and Update Status Report on the Greater Prairie-Chicken Tympanuchus cupido in Canada (2000)

    A status report on Greater Prairie-Chicken (Tympanuchus cupido pinnatus) in Canada was prepared in 1978 (Saskatchewan Department of Tourism and Renewable Resources). The 1978 report noted a decline in critical habitat for the species and although the report listed the bird as endangered, it concluded that the Greater Prairie-Chicken was “extirpated in Canada practically speaking.” The report further concluded that, at that time, the potential still existed to preserve the species for future Canadians. Details of distribution, protection, habitat requirements, general biology, movements, behaviour and limiting factors are given in the initial report. The current report summarizes information subsequent to the previous report and provides additional information not reported earlier.

COSEWIC Assessments

  • COSEWIC Assessment on the Greater Prairie-Chicken Tympanuchus cupido in Canada (2000)

    Last reported in 1987. Designated Endangered in April 1978. Status re-examined and designated Extirpated in April 1990. Status examined and confirmed in May 2000. Last assessment based on an existing status report.
  • COSEWIC Assessment Summary and Status Report: Greater Prairie-Chicken Tympanuchus cupido pinnatus (2010)

    Assessment Summary – November 2009 Common name Greater Prairie–Chicken Scientific nameTympanuchus cupido pinnatus Status Extirpated Reason for designationThis species was once an abundant breeder in prairie habitats of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. New genetic evidence indicates that the species was a native of Canada for the past 9000 years and did not colonize the prairies habitat with European settlement as previously thought. Habitat loss and degradation and hybridization with the Sharp–tailed Grouse contributed to its extirpation from Canada. Occurrence Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario Status historyLast reported in 1987. Designated Endangered in April 1978. Status re–examined and designated Extirpated in April 1990. Status re–examined and confirmed in May 2000 and in November 2009.

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Greater Prairie-Chicken (2010)

    This species was once an abundant breeder in prairie habitats of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. New genetic evidence indicates that the species was a native of Canada for the past 9000 years and did not colonize the prairies habitat with European settlement as previously thought. Habitat loss and degradation and hybridization with the Sharp-tailed Grouse contributed to its extirpation from Canada.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2010 (2010)

    Under Canada’s Species At Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to “assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species”. During the past year, COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings and reviewed the status of 79 wildlife species (species, subspecies, populations). During the meeting of November 2009, COSEWIC assessed or reviewed the classification of the status of 28 wildlife species. COSEWIC assessed or reviewed the classification of an additional 51 wildlife species (species, subspecies and populations) during their April 2010 meeting. For species already found on Schedule 1 of SARA, the classification of 32 species was reviewed by COSEWIC and the status of the wildlife species was confirmed to be in the same category (extirpated - no longer found in the wild in Canada but occurring elsewhere, endangered, threatened or of special concern). The wildlife species assessment results for the 2009-2010 reporting period include the following: Extirpated: 6 Endangered: 39 Threatened: 16 Special Concern: 17 Data Deficient: 1 This report transmits to the Minister the status of 46 species newly classified as extirpated, endangered, threatened or of special concern, fulfilling COSEWIC’s obligations under SARA Section 24 and 25. A full detailed summary of the assessment for each species and the reason for the designation can be found in Appendix I of the attached report. Since its inception, COSEWIC has assessed 602 wildlife species in various risk categories, including 262 Endangered, 151 Threatened, 166 Special Concern and 23 Extirpated. In addition, 13 wildlife species have been assessed as Extinct. Also, to date, 46 wildlife species have been identified by COSEWIC as Data Deficient and 166 wildlife species were assessed as Not at Risk. This year has been a particularly productive year for COSEWIC’s Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge (ATK) Subcommittee. In April 2010 COSEWIC approved the Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge Process and Protocol Guidelines, providing clear and agreed principles for the gathering of Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge to carry out COSEWIC functions as required under Section 15(2) of SARA (See Appendix III of the attached report). We are grateful for the rich and enthusiastic contribution made by community elders and experts in helping the ATK Subcommittee prepare the ATK protocols.

Consultation Documents

  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act: Terrestrial Species – November 2010 (2010)

    As part of its strategy for protecting wildlife species at risk, the Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA) on June 5, 2003. Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species that receive protection under SARA, also called the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Please submit your comments by February 4, 2011 for species undergoing normal consultations and by February 4, 2012 for species undergoing extended consultations.

Recovery Document Posting Plans

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada's Three-Year Recovery Document Posting Plan (2016)

    Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Three-Year Recovery Document Posting Plan identifies the species for which recovery documents will be posted each fiscal year starting in 2014-2015. Posting this three year plan on the Species at Risk Public Registry is intended to provide transparency to partners, stakeholders, and the public about Environment and Climate Change Canada’s plan to develop and post these proposed recovery strategies and management plans. However, both the number of documents and the particular species that are posted in a given year may change slightly due to a variety of circumstances. Last update March 17, 2017