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Fire is used to control invasive species on the coastal prairie habitat of the Attwater Prairie Chicken NWR near Eagle Lake, Texas.

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Fire is used to control invasive species on the coastal prairie habitat of the Attwater Prairie Chicken NWR near Eagle Lake, Texas.

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A heat lamp serves as a surrogate mother for this juvenile Attwater’s prairie-chicken at the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center. Though captive breeding has saved the bird from certain extinction, without wild parents to teach young birds the dangers of predation, the future is still very uncertain.

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Eggs in the incubator at the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center.

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Just hatched, an exhausted Attwater’s prairie-chicken restsin the hands of a biologist after freeing itself from its egg in the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center’s incubator room.

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A young Attwater’s prairie-chicken (endangered) huddles in the grass, surveying its new surroundings near Texas City, TX.

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A heat lamp serves as a surrogate mother for this juvenile Attwater’s prairie-chicken at the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center. Captive breeding efforts are the species’ only hope for survival.

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A young Attwater’s prairie-chicken (endangered) huddles in the grass, surveying its new surroundings near Texas City, TX.

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A month old Attwater’s chick naps in the sun at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center.

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A heat lamp serves as a surrogate mother for this juvenile Attwater’s prairie-chicken at the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center. Captive breeding efforts are the species’ only hope for survival.

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Just hatched, an exhausted Attwater’s prairie-chicken restsafter freeing itself from its egg in the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center’s incubator room.

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This captive-born chick resting in the hands of a biologist represents the last hope for the Attwater’s prairie-chicken. The species which used to number over a million strong is now down to a few dozen, holding out in small islands of Texas coastal prairie.

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Close-up of an endangered male Attwater’s prairie- chicken,killed by a Cooper’s hawk. Predation is a normal part of healthy ecosystems, but shrinking habitat creates a problem when birds like the APC have no place to hide.

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This Attwater’s prairie chicken wasn’t strong enough to free itself from its egg at the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center. Biologists must let nature take its course to keep the population as strong as possible.

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A female Attwater’s prairie chicken (endangered) telescopesher head above the grass as she moves out of the pen and into the wild coastal prairie. She and her chicks were killed by predators less than two weeks later.

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Predators have coexisted for centuries with the Attwater’s prairie-chicken. In recent decades, shrinking habitat has left the grouse nowhere to hide, making predation a significant problem.

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A female Attwater’s prairie chicken sits on her clutch of eggs at a captive breeding pen at the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center.

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A captive-born mother and chick wait in the safety of a pre-release pen. Once they ventured out into the wild, however, the mother was killed within two weeks by a raptor.

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Two male Attwater’s prairie-chickens (endangered) fight over the attention of nearby females on a booming ground in Texas.

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A male Attwater’s prairie-chicken (endangered) shakes off the rain. Waiting all day for females in an open pasture means exposure to the elements; in extreme weather, some birds die.

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Two male Attwater’s prairie-chickens (endangered) fight at the Nature Conservancy’s Texas City Prairie Preserve, the last functional lek known to exist.

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An endangered male Attwater’s prairie chicken booms inside a pen at the Attwater Prairie Chicken NWR. Captive-raised males are allowed to breed and then turned loose while the females incubate their eggs in the pen.

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A captive male Attwater’s prairie-chicken takes on all comers, viewing humans as well as fellow APC’s as competition for females.

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‘Frankie’ the male Attwater’s prairie chicken boomed and strutted outside a pen at the APC NWR for weeks, hoping to get a chance to mate. His persistence paid off; he was eventually let inside the pen and mated successfully.

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Two male Attwater’s prairie-chickens (endangered) face off on the Nature Conservancy’s booming ground near Texas City, TX.

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During the booming season, endangered male Attwater’s prairie-chickens shake their tail feathers like there’s no tomorrow hoping to attract a mate.

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Crowing is one way male Attwater’s prairie-chickens proclaim their territory on the booming ground. (Texas City, TX.)

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One of the last wild male Attwater’s prairie chickens booming near Texas City, TX.

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This cattle pasture 40 miles from Houston is now the last booming ground or lek for the Attwater’s prairie-chicken. Between ten and twenty birds use this spot every year, but how long they can hold out is uncertain.

Photo: Julie Jensen Director of Marketing | WVC O: 866.800.7326 | D: 702.443.9249 | E: j.jensen@wvc.org

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