Several times I’ve written about the recently documented hybridization of lesser and greater prairie chickens. It’s a natural occurrence that’s become possible as lesser prairie chickens have increased their numbers and range northward from southwest Kansas, into areas with greater prairie chickens.
Such birds have also had my attention since they were first documented on a ranch I know very well in Gove County. When we’d flush ‘chickens on deer or antelope hunts I always wondered if it might be a hybrid, which are known as “guessers.”
So I felt like I’d gotten an extra Christmas gift when I stumbled on to some neat online video footage of such a bird displaying somewhere in western Kansas. The footage was taken by Noppadol Paothong, a great wildlife photographer with the Missouri Department of Conservation. He’s the photographer of Save the Last Dance, a great book with some amazing images of assorted prairie grouse.
It’s especially neat because you can see hints of both greater and lesser prairie chickens in the bird’s plummage, calls and displaying ritual. For comparison, you can click on the lesser and greater prairie chicken links at the right of the page.
It’s cool stuff, for sure. Also notice the mention that neither pure lesser or greater prairie chickens seem interested in the hybrids for mates.