Status: Extirpated Species (extinct) Canada and USA, Attwater's Greater Prairie-chicken is Endangered USA (Southern species was not found in Canada)
Atlantic Coast race (Heath Hen) became extinct in 1932; Texas coast race (Attwater's) is seriously endangered. Loss of habitat is single greatest threat to remaining populations in interior.
Also Attwater's Greater Prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus cupido attwateri), USA Texas.
At one time, the eerie hollow moaning of male prairie-chickens displaying on their spring "booming grounds" was a common sound across much of central and eastern North America. Today the prairie-chickens are quite uncommon and localized; the race on the Atlantic seaboard, called the Heath Hen, became extinct in 1932. Greater Prairie-Chickens still thrive on a few areas of native grassland in the midwest.
In 1900, up to 1,000,000 Attwater's prairie chickens inhabited the coastal grasslands. Loss of habitat is believed to be the prime reason for their decline. One of the major factors contributing to the habitat loss was the widespread planting, beginning in the early 1900s, of Chinese tallow trees (Triadica sebifera) to establish a soapmaking industry. Since that time, T. sebifera has proven to be an aggressive invader of the coastal grasslands, where it displaces the diverse native plant assemblage that was dominated by prairie grasses and forbs with dense, near-monospecific stands that significantly alter biotic and abiotic ecosystem processes. Urbanization further contributes to habitat loss. As a result of these changes over the last 100 years, the entire grassland ecosystem where Attwater's prairie chicken once thrived exists in small, scattered patches whose continued existence is threatened. Where once grazing plains bison and periodic wildfires due to lightning reduced brush, the birds now have difficulty making their way through thick undergrowth. Other, less-apparent changes in the ecosystem possibly have had an effect, as well.