Destination :: Attwater Prairie Chicken NWR

  • A male Attwater's Prairie Chicken stands with air sacs inflated and long neck feathers held erect over his head.

    Male Attwater's Prairie Chicken Booming. April 2018. Image 1/6

  • Two male Attwater Prairie Chickens fight for dominance on a booming ground during mating season. One bird hovers over the other.

    Male Attwater's Prairie Chickens . April 2018. Image 2/6

  • A male Attwater's Prairie Chicken faces the camera. His yellow air sacs are inflated and he is in the process of performing a mating call.

    Male Attwater's Prairie Chicken Booming. April 2018. Image 3/6

  • A male Attwater's Prairie Chicken stomps its leg as part of its elaborate courtship dance.

    Male Attwater's Prairie Chicken. April 2018. Image 4/6

  • A male Attwater's Prairie Chicken stands sideways to the camera, with air sacs inflated and head lowered as it booms, or performs its mating call.

    Male Attwater's Prairie Chicken Booming. April 2018. Image 5/6

  • A male Attwater's Prairie Chicken stands sideways to the camera, with neck feathers erect and showing off his yellow air sacs and their purple bands at the top.

    Male Attwater's Prairie Chicken. April 2018. Image 6/6

The Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge is one of the last remaining homes of the critically endangered Attwater’s Prairie Chicken.

Brief History

1900
Up to one million Attwater's Prairie Chickens exist on the coastal prairies of Louisiana and Texas.1
1919
Attwater's Prairie Chickens disappear from Louisiana due to habitat loss.2
1937
Only 8,700 Attwater's Prairie Chickens remain in Texas. Hunting is banned.
1960s
The World Wildlife Fund and The Nature Conservancy purchases 3,500 acres of land to preserve prairie habitat for the birds.3
1967
The bird is added to the endangered species list. Only 1,070 birds remain.4
1972
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service purchases the conservation land and creates the Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge.5
1973
The Endangered Species Act provides immediate protection for the Attwater's Prairie Chicken.
1980-1994
Extreme weather severely impacts the prairie chicken population; by 1994, less than 160 birds exist in the wild.6
2003
Less than birds are found in the wild.7
2009
The population in the wild grows to 90 birds.8
2018
After two years of devastating floods and Hurricane Harvey, only twelve birds are estimated to survive on the wildlife refuge.9

Location

Eagle Lake, Texas, 77434
United States

Website

Evaluation

Once or Twice is Enough

Worth visiting once or twice to see the prairie chickens. I took the monthly van tour during mating season and highly recommend it; they drove us back to the booming grounds, where we were most likely to see the birds (and we did!), and the ranger’s commentary was well done. As one of the last pockets of coastal prairie, visits at any time of the year to see this dwindling ecology in action would also be interesting.

Visits: 1 Visited: April 2018

Quick Statistics

Size
10,000 acres10

Notes

  1. "History of Species Decline," TPWD.
  2. Unless otherwise noted, timeline information is from "About the Refuge," USFWS.
  3. "Attwaters Prairie Chicken," USFWS.
  4. "History of Species Decline," TPWD.
  5. "Attwaters Prairie Chicken," USFWS.
  6. "History of Species Decline," TPWD.
  7. "Introduction," TPWD.
  8. "Introduction," TPWD.
  9. Information provided by a ranger on a van tour, April 2018.
  10. "Habitat," USFWS.