Every spring from early March to May, the male Greater Prairie-Chickens are busy performing their courtship displays on leks, while the females watch from nearby. Males attempt to impress the females by erecting earlike plumes on their head, stomping their feet, and making resonate booming noises from inflated orange air sacs along their necks. The displays start just before sunrise and may continue for three hours. Greater Prairie-Chickens can be found in extensive patches of tallgrass and mixed-grass prairies, with the highest densities occurring in Sandhills Ecoregion.
Where to view
The most enjoyable way to observe prairie chickens is up-close from a viewing blind. There are several free blinds available in Nebraska starting in March and going to May.
Burchard Lake WMA, Burchard, NE
- Two blinds available, first come, first served.
N-Corpe, North Platte, NE
- One blind available, open March 18-May 3, reservations required. Call (308) 534-6752 or click here to learn more.
Valentine National Wildlife Refuge, Valentine, NE
- A blind is available April 1, reservations required. Call (402) 376-3789 or click here to learn more.
Viewing tips & etiquette
- Visitors should arrive to the blind at least 45 minutes before sunrise to reduce lek disturbances. Please be aware that the grouse may not display if folks are late to the blind; late-comers will scare the birds away and they may disperse for extended periods of time. If possible, visit the blind the afternoon before so it will be easier to find your way in the dark.
- Viewing typically lasts two to three hours. While observing the lek, stay quiet and reduce any quick movements. Please do not leave the blind until all the birds have left the display grounds for the day.
- Visitors are recommended to bring warm clothing, a comfortable seat, binoculars, camera, snacks, a flashlight, an area map, and a viewing blind map. Also, please pack out what you pack in, don’t leave anything for the next visitors.