Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Going To The Chicken Dance
Yes, you read it right, I'm going to the chicken dance. I've always wanted to...well, in the last five years or so anyway. I didn't think you could catch them dancing but I've found a place that will not only find the dance hall, but they will take you to it and provide you with a front row seat. I expect to be a changed person after the dance. Before you start thinking that I've lost a few bricks from my load, I'm not talking about any old chicken, I'm talking about the lesser prairie chicken.
For people who are wildlife enthusiasts this would be a pretty big deal because you can find these unique birds only in a very small part of the United States. This area includes southeastern Colorado, the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma and southwestern Kansas. These birds were once plentiful all over the southwest but farming, grazing and pesticides have taken their toll. While this bird is not on the endangered species list there are only about 500 breeding birds in Colorado and I am excited to be able to see some in the wild.
In the springtime the lesser prairie chickens gather at "communal" sites to mate. These areas are called leks. The males puff themselves up and jump up and down, trying to impress the local females.....not unlike humans...and that's what I'm going to see.
To be able to see this incredible display you don't just drive around southeast Colorado and happen upon them. To see them you have to know where a lek is and you can't let the birds see you or feel threatened. The best way to see them is to have a guide take you to a lek and to use a blind so that the birds cannot see you. Since the birds are active at sunrise you have to be in the blind well before sunrise.
Guitar and I found a rancher who conducts tours on private land in April and early May so we decided we're going to the dance. Our ladies have agreed to accompany us but they're a little skeptical at getting up at 4 am to go see some birds. Maybe if we get them a corsage to go to the dance that will help?
The plan is to take our RVs to this ranch on a Saturday in mid April. We will go to the dance on Sunday morning. Probably on Sunday afternoon we'll head for either Bent's Old Fort or Vogel Canyon and spend Sunday night. We'll return home on Monday. Stay tuned for more.
Thanks for visiting.