The Heath Hen was a distinctive subspecies of the greater prairie chicken, Tympanuchus cupido, a large North American bird in the grouse family that became extinct in 1932. It is sometimes considered a separate species.

Heath Hen
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Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Aves
Order Galliformes
Family Phasianidae
Genus Tympanuchus
Species T. cupido

T. c. cupido

Conservation Status


Very similar to the greater prairie chicken of the Great Plains, but slightly smaller, the length of the bird was approximately 17 inches (43 cm) and weight was about two pounds (0.9 kg). A specimen weighing three pounds was claimed by Alexander Wilson but that figure was not verified by later ornithologists. Several key plumage characteristics separated the heath hens from their Great Plains counterparts: heath hens generally displayed a strong reddish hue in their plumage, especially in their crop area, and much thicker barring throughout the breast and sides. Their pinnae (horns) were generally pointed, and tails were a greyish brown.


  • The last heath hen was named Booming Ben. He was given the name due to him shouting his mating noise, not knowing he was the last of his subspecies.
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