The Sharptail Grouse and Prairie Chicken Mating Ritual Nebraska’s Birding Event of the Year

Posted by on Mar 10, 2016 in Bird Watching, Blog, Relaxing Accommodations | Comments Off on The Sharptail Grouse and Prairie Chicken Mating Ritual Nebraska’s Birding Event of the Year

Nebraska’s Sandhills are one of the strongholds left for the prairie grouse in North America. The Sharptail Grouse and Prairie Chickens, inhabit theSharp-tailed Grouse majestic, ancient dunes of Nebraska. Every spring, visitors and birding enthusiasts alike are in for a treat as they witness the mating ritual of these beautiful birds.

Sharptail grouse, which have pointed tails, feathered feet, and brown v-shaped markings on their overall whiter feathers, are more widespread than their prairie chicken cousins. Sharptails range from western Nebraska, throughout the Dakotas, Montana, and prairie Canada, all the way up to Alaska.

Prairie chickens, on the other hand, sport squared-off tails, bare chicken-like feet, and darker, brown-barred feathers, have a more limited range. Their territory has shrunken to portions of Kansas, where populations are struggling, central South Dakota, where numbers are limited, and Nebraska.

Each spring, the Sandhills of Nebraska plays host to thousands of birding enthusiasts and tourists who are treated the grassland mating dance between the Sharptail Grouse and Prairie Chickens. The amazing energy of the event and the pure spectacle of nature up close makes birding enthusiasts and visitors go out of their way to get an up close and personal look at this amazing display of nature. This ritual has been covered by media from the east and west side of the country and is a wonderful life experience.

Birding enthusiasts and visitors alike are amazed to watch a ritual charged with a display of gobbling, hooting, dancing, strutting, and inflating air sacs. The grassland dance is a “must see” ritual that avid birding enthusiasts, tourists, and those new to the birding world.

On an area called a lek, the male birds stake their ground. This is where they intimidate other males and attract the hens. The males show off their dancing, booming, and strutting skills to attract the attention of the females. This also acts as a signal for other males to move on. The ritual has evolved over time to ensure the survival of the species, which is why you’ll see food stomping, erect tail feathers, and inflating neck sacs. It’s all part of a delicate ritual that’s truly a sight to see.

As any birding enthusiast knows, having this special ritual take place in a central, accessible location is an additional treat. The area is monitored during the dance to prevent viewers from disrupting the activity, but the fact that viewing this spectacular event is easy means that you won’t have to go on any dangerous treks to see it. Even the local economy has developed around this ritual, while tours and lodging are widely available.

Millions of birds migraPrairie Chickente through the Sandhills of Nebraska, even though the Sandhills themselves only cover about 20,000 square miles of grassland. The birds migrate by using North Central Flyway, which stretches through the middle of the country from North Dakota to Texas. The North Central Flyway is one of the four major flyways in the United States. Each flyway stretches from north to south and offers migratory species the food, water, shelter and habitable land needed for the winter feeding and summer breeding for many species.

Birding in the Nebraska Sandhills can be a truly amazing experience. Being able to view the mating ritual between the Sharptail Grouse and Priarie Chicken is a “must see” event that you don’t want to miss out on. Don’t miss the chance to discover this truly incredible act of nature in Nebraska Sandhills this spring. Visit our website, or give us a call at (308) 546-2206 to find out more information. Like Us on Facebook to stay up to date for all your Nebraska Sandhills fun!