There’s more to birding in the area around North Platte than the annual Sandhill Crane migration. Every spring during the early morning hours a lucky few people will witness the mating dance of the Greater Prairie Chicken. The sound and sight of the annual spring rite of passage of the Prairie Chicken is a must-see for dedicated nature lovers. Their deep thrumming song, their dancing feet and the bright orange ornamentation they wear on their necks is stunning.
Prairie-chickens are an overlooked native species that put on a great mating show. Males will drum their feet and strut in their territory while keeping other males away in their attempts to attract a female. The males have brightly colored air sacs on the sides of their necks that they inflate and “ear-like” pinnae feathers that they raise and lower during their dances. Every year the prairie chickens return to their leks to display and mate. This sight is one that should be included on everyone’s bucket list of must-see experiences.
Prairie Chicken Dance Tours
In the spring the hearts of the Nebraska Greater Prairie Chickens turn toward love. To successfully attract a female mate, the male Prairie Chickens must impress them with their dancing prowess. Males will gather in large numbers on dancing grounds knowns as leks. They will cackle, jump and stomp their feet, sometimes scuffling with a rival. Then they will scrunch down and inflate their bright orange neck sacks and emit an eerie booming sound.
The ladies on the other hand will observe the shenanigans circumspectly, examining the prospects with a critical eye. However, if they see something they like, they may come forward for a brief, flurried assignation.
Dusty Trails is your host for an excursion to a large and busy Prairie Chicken lek located south of Sutherland to see all of the action for yourself. The optimum time for viewing the Prairie Chicken Dance is from late March through late April or early May.
Click HERE for information on 2021 Prairie Chicken and Sandhill Crane tours.