Attwater's prairie-chicken-its life history and management

North American Fauna 57




Attwater's prairie chicken, a characteristic bird of the Texas coastal prairie, is closely related to the now extinct heath-hen of northeastern North America. Once abundant in an area extending from the coastal tall-grass prairies of southwestern Louisiana and Texas west and south to near Port Isabel, it has decreased in numbers as man has exploited its habitat, until now it is threatened with the same fate as that of the heath-hen.

Important factors limiting the numbers of the bird include excessive or persistent rainfall during the nesting season, heavy grazing, excessive pasture burning, agricultural operations, and overshooting. Management will usually involve protection from excessive killing, improvement of food and cover, and control of predators and of the kill by hunters. Responsibility for this rests with the landowner.

Optimum prairie chicken range apparently consists of well-drained grassland, with some weeds or shrubs, the cover varying in density from light to heavy; and with surface water available in summer; diversification within the grassland type is essential. In the absence of ample refuges for the species, probably all other favorable factors together will fail to save Attwater's prairie chicken from extinction.

This number continues the series of the North American Fauna issued by the Bureau of Biological Survey, of the United States Department of Agriculture, prior to its transfer and consolidation with the Bureau of Fisheries on June 30, 1940, to form the Fish and Wildlife Service, in the Department of the Interior.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
Federal Government Series
Attwater's prairie-chicken-its life history and management
Series title:
North American Fauna
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
v, 65 p. incl. illus. (incl. map) tables 14 pl. (1 col.) on 11 l. fold. diagr. 23 cm.