Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Texas
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Boal, C.W., P.K. Borsdorf, and T. Gicklhorn. 2013. Assessment of lesser prairie-chicken use of wildlife water guzzlers. Bulletin of the Texas Ornithological Society 46:10-18.


ABSTRACT Man-made water sources have been used as a management tool for wildlife, especially in arid regions, but the value of these water sources for wildlife populations is not well understood. In particular, the value of water as a conservation tool for lesser prairie-chickens (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) is unknown. However, this is a relevant issue due to a heightened conservation concern for the species and its occupancy of an arid landscape anticipated to experience warmer, drier springs and winters. We assessed if Lesser Prairie-chickens would use commercially available wildlife water guzzlers and if there was any apparent selection between two design types. We confirmed that Lesser Prairie-chickens would use bird friendly designed wildlife water guzzlers. Use was primarily during the lekking-nesting period (March – May) and the brood rearing period (June – July) and primarily by males. Although both designs were used, we found significantly greater use of a design that had a wider water trough and ramp built into the tank cover compared to a design that had a longer, narrower trough extending from the tank. Although we were unable to assess the physiological need of surface water by Lesser Prairie-chickens, we were able to verify that they will use wildlife water guzzlers to access surface water. If it is found surface water is beneficial for Lesser Prairie-chickens, game bird friendly designed guzzlers may be a useful conservation tool the species.