Lesser Prairie-Chicken Viewing/Fence Marking

Join us for an amazing prairie experience, to see and hear Lesser Prairie-Chickens displaying on their gobbling grounds, or leks. After very early morning coffee and pastries at the Northwest Inn, you will be transported via van to a lek, 30-60 minutes away.  Exact departure time will depend on weather and lek location, but will be about 4:30 am.

Please Note

Lesser Prairie-Chickens are not doing well on the Selman Ranch and adjacent areas, despite Sue Selman’s best efforts to make her ranch Prairie-Chicken friendly. The last three years we have not had leks on ranches where we have access to set up blinds. However, there are some leks a bit further west that we know of and are able to view from the vans. So while the blinds were not an option the last few years, everyone still had excellent views of the birds. For 2019 we will initially only offer the van viewing option. We will still make our best efforts to finda lek we can set up blinds at, and if we are able to do so everyone who has registered for the van viewing will have the option to be in a blind.

Weather: We do our best to get you to the birds rain or shine. But if we receive heavy rain the ranch roads can become impassable and we may not be able to reach the leks. We can’t provide a refund in case of bad weather, but we will make our best efforts to reschedule you for another day. In our ten years so far this has only happened twice.

Viewing from Blinds

As noted above, the blind option may or may not be available

For this option, you will settle into the blinds at about 5:30 am while it is still dark outside. You will soon hear the unmistakable gobbling of the Lesser Prairie-Chicken in the morning twilight. Viewers will stay in the blinds until the birds begin to disperse at about 9:00 am

A few things to keep in mind if using a blind: Dress warmly, the temperatures are often in the 30°-40°F range. The leks are on private working ranches, so we may climb through or use ladders to climb over a barbed-wire fence. You will be in the blinds for about 3 hours and cannot leave without disturbing the birds. Be prepared to sit quietly on a camp-type chair without access to a restroom. Young children will have trouble sitting quietly for that length of time, so the minimum age is 12 years.

Viewing from Vans
For this option, you will stay in the van or other vehicle which will park near a lek before first light. This will be a much more comfortable option. Though you will not be as close to the chickens as in a blind, you will still get excellent views and be able to watch and hear their displays on the lek.

Brunch at the Selman RanchRanch Brunch at Selman Ranch
After the birds disperse from the lek, we will depart and travel to the Selman Guest Ranch for a ranch brunch at approximately 10:00 am.

Please note: The total number of people we can accommodate to view the chickens each morning is limited.

Conservation Action—Fence Marking

After brunch, participants can optionally spend about an hour or two working to save Lesser Prairie-Chickens by helping to mark fences at the Selman Ranch IBA (Important Bird Area.)

You can contribute significantly to the protection of Lesser Prairie-Chickens by helping to mark fences, a very simple procedure anyone of any age can perform. Collisions with barbed wire fencing is a significant cause of chicken mortality. The Sutton Avian Research Center has worked out a technique of using vinyl siding starter strips cut into 2 inch pieces. These easily snap onto the barbed wire, making the fence visible to the chickens. Fences marked in this manner dramatically reduce chicken mortality.

 


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