STATUS: Endangered without critical habitat.|
DESCRIPTION: A brownish, strongly black-barred, medium-sized grouse with a short, rounded, blackish tail. Males have long pinnae on the sides of the neck, which point forward during courtship. Males also have a yellow-orange comb above the eyes, and, on each side of the neck, an area of yellow-orange skin that inflates during courtship display.
HABITAT:The species uses different areas of the coastal prairies grassland for various activities, therefore interspersion of short, mid, and tall grass prairie is optimum. For example, areas of less than 10 inches in height are used for courtship, feeding, and moisture avoidance. Areas of 10-16 inches in maximum height are used for roosting and feeding, whereas areas between 16-24 inches maximum height are used for nesting, loafing, feeding, and escape. Interspaces between grass clumps should be relatively open to facilitate movement. Densely vegetated areas of over 24 inches in height are generally avoided, but are occasionally used for protection from inclement weather and predators, and as fall feeding grounds.
Present: In Texas, Aransas, Austin, Colorado, Galveston, Goliad, Refugio, and Victoria counties.
THREATS AND/OR REASONS FOR DECLINE: Habitat loss and alteration due to agricultural practices, development, brush invasion, overgrazing; and competition with introduced exotic species (pheasants). Losses may also be attributed to impacts by fire ants, wild and feral mammals and raptors.
Historic: Occurred from Kleberg county in Texas to Bayou Teche, Louisiana, with a range of about 6 million acres of coastal prairie habitat.
OTHER INFORMATION: The species courtship involves an elaborate display that involves booming and pointing forward of the pinnae by the which aggregate in groups or leks to attract mates. Clutch size ranges from 4 to 15 eggs with an average of 12 eggs. Nests are usually located on average 1.6 km from the booming grounds with more than 60% lost to predation. Diet (omnivorous) mostly consists of plant parts (foliage, seeds) and insects, with seasonal shifts (summer mostly insects and fall-winter plant parts). Most commonly consumed plants are ruellia, yellow falsegarlic, upright prairie coneflower, leavenworth vetch, native stargrass, bedstraw, doveweed, and ragweed.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. August 1992. Threatened and Endangered Species of Texas.
Endangered Species Office, Albuquerque, New Mexico