Attwater’s Prairie Chicken

2016 Successes:

  • 90 Attwater’s prairie chickens released into the Texas wild
  • Spring count of Attwater’s prairie chickens in 3 counties showed a population increase of 25%
  • 2,464 acres of habitat treated for fire ants. Fire ants compete with chicks for food, so less fire ants means more chicks will survive to adulthood!

Believe it or not, the Attwater’s prairie chicken is not a chicken! It’s technically a grouse – and it’s vanishing from the coastal prairies of Texas. It is estimated that less than 100 of these birds are left in the wild. The Houston Zoo manages the captive breeding program for the Attwater’s prairie chicken.  We have breeding facilities both behind the scenes at the Zoo and at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.  When the birds hatch and grow large enough, they are slowly introduced and then released into the wild, where they will support the already existing populations.

These amazing birds face many threats once they are in the wild and we support the efforts to protect them to give them a fighting chance.  Half of the Attwater’s Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge (totaling 5,500 acres) received fire ant treatment to protect habitat and Attwater’s prairie chicken nests in 2014.

How You Can Help

  • Donate to the Houston Zoo’s conservation fund to help support this project and prevent the Attwater’s prairie chicken from going the way of the dodo bird.
  • Sponsor an Attwater’s prairie chicken through the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department

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