Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Break from Texas to Talk About Prairie-Chickens

On Friday night, I met Eric and our friend Chad on the west side of Indianapolis and headed towards Illinois for a trip to see Greater Prairie-Chickens. On the way we stopped at Universal Mines in western Indiana and met up with our friends, Ted and Cindy Meyer, and Kathy Feldman. I added a few birds to my Indiana year list including Tree Swallow and Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs.

After we finished birding, we went into Paris, Illinois and had dinner at a local pizza place. We had a great dinner and got ta watch some of the NCAA tournament action! We finally arrived in Newton, Illinois at about 10pm and quickly got to work setting up our camp at Sam Parr FWA.

The next morning we were up at 4:30am and heading towards Prairie Ridge State Natural Area by 4:45. We arrived at the site very early but we were soon joined by the rest of our group from the Indiana Audubon Society. After some brief instructions from our guide from the refuge, we set off for the blinds. As we waited for the chickens to start booming, we were entertained by calling Wilson's Snipe and a Short-eared Owl that passed by many times. At 6:08, the first chicken started booming and we soon saw some shadowy figures moving towards us from the long grasses at the end of the field.

It was amazing how quickly all of them appeared, our first count was 17 males all booming and fighting for the still absent females. As it continued to get lighter, some females finally started to appear. For the next 2 hours, the chickens continued to display and one even came within about 15 yards of the blinds. It was an amazing experience that I highly recommend all birders take part in at some point!

Greater Prairie-Chicken

Greater Prairie-Chicken Displaying



Kelly said...

...really cool. I could handle that 4:45 wake-up call to see these birds. Wonderful photos too.

Rob Ripma said...

Kelly - You definitely should! IAS runs this trip every year. You should try to make it on next years trip!