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

hiking

Hiking for Health and Happiness

Oct 13, 2019

Hike your way to health and happiness with this week's Discover Nature Note.

Bobcat

What About Bobcat?

Oct 06, 2019

What About Bobcat? No baby steps needed for these stealthy creatures that can climb, pounce, and swim. Learn more in this week's Discover Nature Note.

Persimmon

Fall's Tasty Treat

Sep 30, 2019

Eat them green and you'll pucker up like a sunfish. Gather them ripe before the raccoons, and you'll enjoy Missouri's tastiest fall treat-- perfect for pies, breads, and puddings. Persimmons are a homegrown favorite. Discover more including recipes, and what sports use the wood 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