The Greater Prairie chicken consists of three subspecies, the extinct Heath Hen (Tympanuchus cupido cupido) of New England, the critically endangered Attwater's (Tympanuchus cupido attwateri) from the gulf coast of Texas, and the Greater (Tympanuchus cupido pinnatus). Along with the separate species in the Lesser Prairie Chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus).
The Attwater Prairie Chicken is a coastal bird that is distinguishable by the males bright yellow airsacks and eyecombs shown during the breeding season. Overall, their plumage is a very contrasting white and black in appearance, having very small and defined barring.
Photo taken by Nell Bolan
The Lesser Prairie Chicken is a bird that lives in short-grass prairies within areas of the panhandle of Texas, eastern New Mexico, southeast Colorado, southwest Kansas and the pandhandle of Oklahoma. He is distinguishable by the males reddish-orange airsacks and yellow eyecombs shown during the breeding season. Overall, their plumage is not that contrasting, narrow barring and has a lighter faded appearance than the Greater/Attwater's.
Here is a trio of Lesser Prairie Chickens from my personal collection. The female on the far left is from the Texas panhandle, while the male and female on the far right are from southwest Kansas.
The Greater Prairie Chicken is a bird that lives in the tall-grass prairies in many states of the heartland, from North Dakota, south to Oklahoma. With some introduced populations in Minnesota, Wisconson, Missouri and Illinois. A bird that is distinguishable by the males orange airsacks and eyecombs shown during the breeding season. Overall, their plumage is a contrasting white and black in appearance, having much broader banding and slightly darker than in the Lesser/Attwater's.
The male standing on the left is a Greater that has yellow airsacks as a representation of the Attwater Prairie Chicken. Both birds were taken in northern Nebraska.
Photo by Tom J. Ulrich
A nice picture showing the broader barring, dark tail, etc. At the same time the lack of the reddish hue found in the Heath Hen can be seen as well.