Prairie Chicken Booming – Time to Reserve a Blind

This has been a good winter for snow, snow is still very deep in the Buena Vista Grasslands. Though it is a little hard to imagine, spring is coming.  The days are getting progressively longer and the snows will begin to melt. Before long the Buena Vista Marsh will be  alive with the wild voices and stomping feet of the greater prairie chicken (Tympanuchus cupido).

The prairie chicken is known for its annual mating ritual during which the males dance in a circle with their wings over their heads, jump in the air, make a loud booming call and square off against one another in order to attract a hen.  The Wisconsin DNR provides a series of blinds throughout southern Portage County that can been used to study and observe these wonderful creatures.

Fran and Fred Hamerstrom started their internationaly known studies of the greater prairie chicken in 1949. They were credited with playing a major role in keeping the bird from disappearing from Wisconsin. Their advocacy resulted in purchase of grassland in a patchwork distribution providing appropriate habitat sprinkled across a wide geographic area.  The Hamerstroms worked closely with the College of Natural Resources at UW-Stevens Point as adjunct professors. Since the Hamerstrom’s have been influential in the development of UWSP, one could also say Stevens Point is what is today because of prairie chicken preservation.

You can reserving a seat in a viewing blind by  calling 715-343-6215. Viewing starts at 4:30 a.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Buena Vista Marsh, Saturday at Mead Wildlife Area and Saturday and Sunday at Paul J. Olson Wildlife Area.

In a future post I will describe what it is like to view the greater prairie chicken from a blind.

(continued on the next post)

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