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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Greater Prairie-Chickens are courting! Amazing!

Some years ago we were lucky to witness the wonderful mating rituals that occur this time of year for Greater Prairie-Chickens. Here is the post,

The next stop was Charleston, IL where we stayed in this wonderful log home bed and breakfast called Osage Inn. We got up at 3:30 am the next morning to drive to the Prairie Ridge State Natural Area, a 3,500 acre site managed by the Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources. We had to be in a blind before sunrise so as not to disturb the Greater Prairie-Chickens who come to their display ground. Males come in at dawn and begin their "booming," an incredible haunting sound that is less like booming and more reminsicent of Native American flute-like music. They rapidly stamp their feet and inflate large orange sacks on the sides of their throats. They also make other noises, including a maniacal cackling that sounds like a cross between a Pied-billed Grebe, Barred Owl, and rubber ducky. When the females arrive, the males make whooping sounds. They have what is called a "lek" mating system. Males display, then females come on the display grounds and mate with the males, then go off to lay eggs and raise the young. The whole thing was one of the more spectacular avian events we have ever witnessed. Lillian took many, many photos, here are a few more.

We hope to show you additional photos at a later time. Tomorrow we return home to Bobolink Farm.

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