Friday, March 14, 2014

The Heath Hen Is Not an Extinct Species

The Heath Heath is not an extinct species. In fact it was NEVER a species.

You will pardon me if I do not gasp and have the vapors from this breathless announcement:
Once common in America, the prairie chicken called the Heath hen went extinct in 1932. Until recently, there was no hope of seeing the bird in motion again. But a 1918 film was found, in bad condition, a few years ago and has now been restored for viewing.

The Heath Heath, was, is, and has never been anything more than a subspecies of Greater Prairie Chicken or Pinnated Grouse a.k.a. Tympanuchus cupido.  Instead of being extinct, it's a bird whose current population fluctuates between 17,000 and 35,000.

Is that a lot of birds?  No.  But it's sure as hell a sight short of extinct!

So what does the Heath Hen, Tympanuchus cupido cupido look like?  

Exactly like a Prairie Chicken!

If anyone wants to "reintroduce" the Heath Hen back to Massachusetts or any of the states with scrubby heath barrens along the North American coast from New Hampshire to northern Virginia, all they have to do is have the right habitat and cover free of fox, dogs, coyotes, bobcats, and other predators.

Heath Hen Flashback from Timothy Barksdale on Vimeo.

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