RVers see a lot of wildlife in their travels — big animals like bear and moose, and little critters like squirrels and lizards. And they see a lot of birds!
You might have seen this one in the Midwest. It’s called a Lesser Prairie-Chicken. It’s found in the Sand Sagebrush Ecoregion, which includes parts of southeast Colorado, southwest Kansas, the Oklahoma Panhandle and a piece of northwest Texas.
The Lesser Prairie-Chicken is in the grouse family. It’s striped white and brown, slightly smaller and paler than its near relative, the Greater Prairie-Chicken.
Just four years ago, Colorado’s Lesser Prairie-Chickens were on the brink of disappearing from the landscape. Due to a massive blizzard followed by several years of extreme drought, the population had declined to an estimated 50 in the state. However, extreme southeast Colorado has experienced four years with relatively good spring and early summer precipitation and overall good annual rainfall. This weather provided suitable bunchgrass nesting cover and increased numbers of insects for prairie-chicken chicks to eat.
The bird disappeared from most of its former range and is probably still declining; it’s considered to be threatened, the biggest problem being the conversion of natural prairie to farmland.
If you have photographed a rare or unusual wild animal please send a photo and tell us about it.