Attwater's Prairie Chicken

Species Description


The Attwater’s Prairie-Chicken is a medium sized grouse heavily barred with brown, black and buff feathers. It has a short, round tail which is held erect during the courtship display. The male has yellow-orange eye combs and long tufts on the side of the neck which are raised above the head during display.

Line art of Attwater's Prairie Chicken

A helpful key in distinguishing it from the Lesser Prairie-Chicken, besides the fact that their ranges do not overlap, is the yellow-orange air sac. When distinguishing this bird from the Greater Prairie-Chicken note the smaller size – about 10% smaller – and the overall warmer color.

Related species

The closest existing relative to this bird is the Greater Prairie-Chicken, northern population which is not found in the state of Texas.

Photo of Attwater's Prairie Chicken

Attwater's Prairie Chicken

The nearest ranging bird would be in northern Oklahoma, while Attwater’s are a full two states away on the upper Texas coast. As noted above, these birds are larger and cooler colored. The pinnae (feathers on the side of the neck) are longer on the northern race.

Another closely related bird is the Lesser Prairie-Chicken found in the panhandle region of Texas and in the states of Oklahoma and Kansas. This bird is again larger than the Attwater’s with a reddish air sac.


For Additional Information write to:

Wildlife Diversity Program
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
or send a message to: nature@tpwd.state.tx.us

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