Greater Prairie Chickens

April 9th, 2016 at the Buena Vista Grasslands in Central Wisconsin

I have been neglecting this blog lately as so much has been going on with spring migration being in full mode! However, as must happen eveI have decided to go back to April 9th to begin with the catching up process.

On April 9th, for the second consecutive year, I went up to the Buena Vista Grasslands in central Wisconsin to observe the endangered Great Prairie Chickens on the leks where males engage in displays to attract mates. This program is conducted through the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Information on this program and the Greater Prairie Chicken project can be found at this link:

The trip began with a drive up to Stevens Point with my daughter Dominique to stay with Patti Rous who generously had us as guests so we did not have to make the two hour drive early on the morning of the viewing. I was even able to get some birds in her back yard.

Prairie Chicken-Short-eared Owl  4-9-16
Pine Sisken
Prairie Chicken-Short-eared Owl  4-9-16-2
Oregon Junco

We  had to be out at the meeting area at 4:30 a.m. so we could be led out into the grasslands to get settled in a small plywood blind.  It was imperative we were in place before the chickens came out on to the lek as awareness of our presence could result in abandonment of the lek.

Prairie Chicken-Short-eared Owl  4-9-16-45
The crew outside the blind when we were clear to leave: Tom Doherty, Patti Rous, Jeff Galligan, Dominique Galligan.

This trip was not as successful as the first in terms of numbers; we only had five show up for two brief periods and at a distance.  I was able to get a few pictures though! Below are some of the males displaying and moving around the lek.

Small crop displaying chicken.

Prairie Chicken-Short-eared Owl  4-9-16-31

Prairie Chicken-Short-eared Owl  4-9-16-29

Prairie Chicken-Short-eared Owl  4-9-16-27

Prairie Chicken-Short-eared Owl  4-9-16-26

Prairie Chicken-Short-eared Owl  4-9-16-24

Small crop chicken

Prairie Chicken-Short-eared Owl  4-9-16-20

Prairie Chicken-Short-eared Owl  4-9-16-19

Prairie Chicken-Short-eared Owl  4-9-16-15Prairie Chicken-Short-eared Owl  4-9-16-13

The real treat came with several Short-eared Owls gracing us with their presence. They were out hunting in the same general area as we were which may have had something to do with the lack of presence of chickens. Below are  some of the images I was able to get. They did not come very close to us which affected the quality of the pictures but this was the first time I was able to view them in such good lighting.

Short-eared Owl  4-9-16-2

Short-eared Owl  4-9-16

Prairie Chicken-Short-eared Owl  4-9-16-42

Prairie Chicken-Short-eared Owl  4-9-16-37

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