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.
Discover how you can help save the prairie chicken population.