Discover Nature NotesMore posts

Nature's Slow Take on Speed Dating

Mar 03, 2019

As the sun rises over the prairie, the lonesome, haunting calls of prairie chickens signal an ageless ritual.

Beginning in March, the males gather at dawn and again toward evening on what is called a lek or booming ground. Males defend part of the lek from other males and suck air into bright orange air sacs found on both sides of their neck. This booming call draws females to the lek who watch coyly from the sidelines as males charge each other, jump into the air, fight, and stamp their feet. Females then choose their mate.

Prairie chickens are cousins to quail and ruffed grouse and depend on native grasslands. Protection of these prairie homes will help these boomers continue to greet the sunrises of spring.

Saving the Prairie Chicken

  • To restore Missouri's declining prairie chicken population, MDC works with landowners where prairie chicken restoration efforts are underway.
  • Today there are less than 100 birds left in the state.
  • Grasslands that meet the needs of nesting hens and young broods have become so scarce that biologists worry prairie chickens could become extirpated in Missouri.
  • Private landowners who have large acreages near prairie chicken restoration sites (mostly in the western part of the state) can help prairie chickens by creating more nesting and brood-rearing habitat on their property. This will benefit not only prairie chickens, but also a whole suite of grassland birds that include bobwhite quail, eastern meadowlark and eastern kingbirds.

Discover how you can help save the prairie chicken population.

prairie_chickens.jpg

Prairie chickens
Prairie chickens
Prairie chicken hens watch the males compete before choosing a mate

The Prairie Chicken in Missouri (1948)

1948 film on prairie chicken ritual and first known time that their sound was synced with film
1948 film on prairie chicken ritual and first known time that their sound was synced with film

prairie chicken.jpg

prairie chicken
prairie chicken
Male prairie chickens dance and make a deep, low coo described as a booming sound when they court females on leks where the birds meet for spring mating.

Recent Posts

wild trout on barbecue grill

Outdoor Cooking

Aug 18, 2019

Whether you're camping, or cooking out in a park or backyard, food always tastes better outdoors. Discover tips and recipes from MDC's campfire cooks in this week's Discover Nature Note.

Smokey 75 Year_1944 Advertising Image

Happy Birthday Smokey Bear

Aug 09, 2019

Happy 75th Birthday Smokey Bear! Our beloved American icon has been protecting our lands from wildfires since 1944. Discover who shares his birthday and how "Only You Can Prevent Wildfires" in this week's Discover Nature Note.

red milkweed beetle

The Sincerest Form of Survival

Aug 04, 2019

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but for wildlife, it can up the odds for survival. Mimicry is used for defense, attack, and camouflage in the wild. See how it's done in this week's Discover Nature Note.

Field Guide

Discovering nature from A-Z is one click away

Recipes

You had fun hunting, catching or gathering your quarry—now have more fun cooking and eating it.
Check out the recipes