Bird Watching

The Nebraska Sandhills region is home to millions of birds that travel the North American Central Flyway every year. For optimum bird watching, visit the Sandhills of Nebraksa in the spring and participate in the ‘grassland dance,’ a viewing of the courtship rituals between the Sharptail Grouse and Prairie Chickens.

Sharptail Grouse

Prairie Chickens

The Nebraska Sandhills Grassland Dance

The Sandhills Motel and Glidden Canoe Rental have been presenting the Grassland Dance since 2001. Visit us here for the exciting opportunity to see, in action, the courtship rituals between the Sharptail Grouse and the Prairie Chicken. Witness nature in its element as you take in this remarkable bird watching display of mating traditions. It’s one of many “must see” Nebraska tourist attractions.

These courtship rituals begin in the Nebraska Sandhills region as early as February and are in full-swing by April. The dance itself is held on special grounds, called a “lek.” During the season, the male birds gather on the lek to claim their territory, intimidate their rivals, and attract the hens. The grouse are known for the deep, resonant booming sounds they make. This Sharptail species is also known for its frenetic performances: they stomp, run, and pose, often rapidly buzzing their erect tail feathers. This whirling dance is what gives the ritual its name. In return, the Prairie Chickens then display short runs, rapid foot stomping, leaps into the air, inflation of their orange neck sacs, and erection of neck feathers. It’s a bird watching site to behold.

Grassland Dance

Grassland Dance

Viewings start early, as it’s necessary to arrive at the lek before dawn so as not to interrupt the birds. To prevent disturbing the lek – as well as for comfortable and successful bird watching – a school bus is used for a viewing blind. The blinds are placed 50 feet from bird activity and are arranged according to the angle of the sun and the lek to allow for best possible viewing and photo opportunities. Modifications are made to allow for camera tripods.

Booking a Viewing

Viewings typically last for two to four hours, depending on the amount of activity. A maximum of 16 people are allowed in the blind during one viewing. Larger groups can be accommodated by early reservation. Groups with children under the age of 16 need to make arrangements for individual dates. Group rates and private viewing rates are available. Reservations are recommended, but short notice bookings can be made based on availability.

Sharptail Grouse Courtship Ritual

Prairie Chicken Courtship Ritual

The Sandhills Motel provides rooms for visitors the night prior to the Grassland Dance viewing. Our comfortable accommodations in the beautiful Nebraska Sandhills region place this site amongst the best in Nebraska tourist attractions. Transportation is also provided to the viewing blind. An expert on Sharptail Grouse and Prairie Chicken mating will be on-site to answer any questions.

Call today to reserve your spot for a viewing of the Grassland Dance, a truly unique bird watching experience that you will not forget. Contact us.