Greater Prairie-Chicken
(Tympanuchus cupido)


Picture of bird
© South Dakota Department of Tourism
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

The Greater Prairie-Chicken was formerly found in grasslands from southern Ontario west across the prairies to Alberta. It was abundant in parts of that range, particularly Manitoba and Saskatchewan, but began declining on the prairies by the 1920s and had essentially disappeared by the 1980s (Houston 2002). It is now listed as Extirpated by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC 2009h). This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.


Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
COSEWIC (Canada)Extirpated2009 
SARA (Canada)Extirpated2003 
IUCN (Global)Vulnerable2018 
Partners in Flight (North America)Watch list - yellow D2017 
Wild Species (Canada)Presumed extirpated2015 
State of North America’s BirdsWatch list2016 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaLarge DecreaseHighBelow Acceptable Level

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
CanadaExtirpated - Species no longer exists in the wild in Canada, but exists elsewhere.

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence


Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population
CanadaVery Low

Conservation and management

While market hunting played a role in the initial declines, much of the later decline and disappearance of the Greater Prairie-Chicken can be attributed to the loss of native mixed-grass and tallgrass prairie habitat to intensive agriculture (Johnson et al. 2011). The species benefits from 20-30% of grassland being in crop but do poorly once that is exceeded (Johnson et al. 2011). Management strategies that follow historic fire and grazing practices are promising rangeland management tools that can benefit the Greater Prairie-Chicken and other grassland wildlife (McNew et al. 2015). For information on the legal status of this species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) and to view available recovery documents, see the SARA Registry.


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Prairie PotholesPrairie Potholes, sub-region and priority type: Prairie and Northern -- Conservation