The story of the Greater Prairie-Chicken is one of response—both positive and negative—to environmental change.
The Greater Prairie-Chicken's original habitat was the tallgrass prairies of midwestern North America. In the 1880s the species spread into the Canadian prairie provinces because ideal habitat was produced and existed there for about 50 years: some shortgrass habitat of the Canadian prairies became more like tallgrass habitat thanks to the coincidence of a few wet years, agricultural settlement, fire suppression and the disappearance of the bison (from hunting). The Greater Prairie-Chicken became abundant there and eventually spread to Ontario.
As intensive agricultural practices took over on the prairies, however, the habitat changed again, and the Greater Prairie-Chicken began to disappear. By the 1930s the species was almost gone. It now survives only in scattered areas of the midwestern United States.
Most Greater Prairie-Chickens are about 43 cm (16 in.). Females are smaller than males.