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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Greater Prairie-Chicken - Tympanuchus cupido

Native Species

Global Rank: G4
State Rank: SXB

Agency Status


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Copyright by: The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, all rights reserved.
General Description
Chunky, hen-like bird, heavily barred above and below with dark brown, cinnamon, and pale buff; short rounded tail is black in males, barred in females; male has fleshy yellow-orange eye combs; both sexes have elongate dark neck feathers, longer and erected during courtship in males; males have inflatable golden sacs on each side of the neck.

For a comprehensive review of the conservation status, habitat use, and ecology of this and other Montana bird species, please see Marks et al. 2016, Birds of Montana.

Diagnostic Characteristics
Greater Prairie-Chicken differs from Lesser Prairie-Chicken in being slightly larger, darker, and more heavily barred below. They differ from Sharp-tailed Grouse in being barred below (rather than scaled/spotted) and in having a dark, rounded tail (instead of a mostly white, pointed one).

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions


Western Hemisphere Range


Range Comments
The only record was from Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge. They are probably no longer present in Montana.

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 1

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density


SUMMER (Feb 16 - Dec 14)
Direct Evidence of Breeding

Indirect Evidence of Breeding

No Evidence of Breeding

WINTER (Dec 15 - Feb 15)
Regularly Observed

Not Regularly Observed


(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

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Citation for data on this website:
Greater Prairie-Chicken — Tympanuchus cupido.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from