May 162017
 

In 2013, when I did my Conservation Big Year, one of the birds I was most focused on seeing was the Lesser Prairie-Chicken. I saw and heard my first ones way back in April 1996 when my sister-in-law Jeanie and I took a road trip out West.

One of my destinations was Lamar, Colorado, where it was fairly easy to drive to a prairie-chicken lek. Well, easy except for the ridiculously early hour we needed to be there in order to see the chickens by the dawn’s early light.

In 2013, I went on one of Kim Eckert’s superb birding trips—the one to Colorado, in which we searched out Lesser Prairie-Chicken, both Greater and Gunnison Sage-Grouse, and White-tailed Ptarmigans.

That’s when I managed to get a fairly respectable recording of the prairie chickens. I also got photos, but we were at a distance, and in the low light, my pictures were nothing to brag about.

Lesser Prairie-Chicken

Lesser Prairie-Chicken

In 2014, I was thrilled to be invited to be the keynote speaker at Oklahoma’s wonderful Lek Treks & More Lesser Prairie-Chicken Festival in Woodward, Oklahoma. (I wrote about it on my blog.)

Several of the events for that festival take place at the Selman Ranch, which is managed specifically for quality habitat and prairie chicken conservation.

Sue Selman, a genuine wildlife hero whose name should be known far and wide, has worked tirelessly to protect these birds against all manner of onslaughts.

After viewing prairie-chickens on her land, Sue set us to work for a half hour or so. She explained that fences are a major cause of death for prairie chickens, which collide with them, perhaps thinking wires are as yielding as prairie grass.

So unnecessary fencing should always be removed to protect grassland species, especially grouse, but when it can’t be removed, a simple and inexpensive, albeit labor intensive, alternative is extremely effective at protecting them.

Marking fences every 2 feet or so with white plastic pieces, about the size of credit cards, reduces kills to virtually nothing. I was proud to get to help with that simple task.

20140426-IMG_7168

20140426-IMG_7170

20140426-IMG_7173

At that festival, I also got to spend time in a fantastic photography blind set right in a major lek. I got some amazing photos!

Lesser Prairie-Chicken

Lesser Prairie-Chicken

Lesser Prairie-Chicken

Dick Wilberforce, a splendid photographer, has worked for over 50 years to preserve and promote the future of Lesser Prairie Chickens. He constructed the very blind I was in when I took those photos. This blind has been used for over 15 years to give birders and photographers from around the globe the opportunity to see these critically endangered birds up close and personal.

But on March 6, 2017, a wildfire destroyed this entire lek as well as a huge swath of quality habitat. The devastating drought and wildfires that have been centered right in the small range of Lesser Prairie-Chickens constitute a huge conservation problem, but also one of human dimensions. Dick is a retired veteran living on a very limited income—he was making such a huge contribution to conservation and more personally to those of us who enjoy splendid photos of Lesser Prairie-Chickens by providing this blind and sharing revenue with the Texas landowner, giving the landowner a vested interest in protecting the habitat. Sue Selman created a Go Fund Me page to help this wonderful conservationist and good man.

Those of us with very limited resources have to be careful about budgeting, and limit our contributions to organizations that do the most good. But sometimes we overlook smaller, more human causes that are actually a major part of the Big Picture. I’ve been covering all my own expenses to produce this blog and my radio program/podcast for decades. If you’ve found my work at all valuable, I’d deeply appreciate it if you’d donate what you can, even a couple of dollars, to this important campaign. One human being to another.

Lesser Prairie-Chicken

 

Subscribe to our FREE Newsletter

 

 

Share on social media:

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail
Laura Erickson

Laura Erickson

Laura Erickson, 2014 recipient of the American Birding Association’s prestigious Roger Tory Peterson Award, has been a scientist, teacher, writer, wildlife rehabilitator, professional blogger, public speaker, photographer, American Robin and Whooping Crane Expert for the popular Journey North educational website, and Science Editor at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. She’s written eight books about birds, including the best-selling Into the Nest: Intimate Views of the Courting, Parenting, and Family Lives of Familiar Birds (co-authored by photographer Marie Read); the National Outdoor Book Award winning Sharing the Wonder of Birds with Kids; 101 Ways to Help Birds; The Bird Watching Answer Book for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology; and the National Geographic Pocket Guide to Birds of North America. She’s currently a columnist and contributing editor for BirdWatching magazine, and is writing a field guide to the birds of Minnesota for the American Birding Association. Since 1986 she has been producing the long-running “For the Birds” radio program for many public radio stations; the program is podcast on iTunes. She lives in Duluth, Minnesota, with her husband, mother-in-law, licensed education Eastern Screech-Owl Archimedes, two indoor cats, and her little birding dog Pip.

Facebook Comments

Leave a Reply

avatar
Ibrahim Jumat

Lovely

Rashid Mehmood

Brilliant

Chandy Wik

Wow beautiful

wpDiscuz

Top-Viewed Posts Last 30 Days

  1. POLL: Should the Tories be allowed to bring back fox hunting? [2435 Views]
  2. Trophy Hunter Gets Eaten by Crocodiles [1894 Views]
  3. Scientists Discover Rare and Endangered Cat in Borneo [973 Views]
  4. POLL: Should the inter-breeding of lions and tigers be banned? [875 Views]
  5. POLL: Should wild elephants be sold to Chinese zoos? [851 Views]
  6. POLL: Should Japan be sanctioned for exceeding its bluefin tuna quota? [838 Views]
  7. POLL: Should the illegal wildlife trade in slow lorises be stopped? [838 Views]
  8. POLL: Should the giraffe be listed as an endangered species? [727 Views]
  9. 10 of the Most Endangered Species on Earth [712 Views]
  10. Rare footage helps explain what Narwhals use their tusks for [703 Views]

Top-Viewed Posts Last 12 Months

  1. White Killer Whale Adult Spotted for First Time in Wild [42085 Views]
  2. POLL: Should there be a worldwide ban on fur farms? [16868 Views]
  3. Gray Squirrels versus Red Squirrels – The Facts [12291 Views]
  4. POLL: Should fur farming be banned in the European Union? [12119 Views]
  5. POLL: Should Congress disband Wildlife “Killing” Services? [11135 Views]
  6. POLL: Should driven grouse-shooting be banned? [8655 Views]
  7. POLL: Should grouse shooting on highland estates be banned? [8291 Views]
  8. POLL: Should black bears be killed for Royal Guards’ fur caps? [8074 Views]
  9. POLL: Should China’s dog meat festival be banned? [7437 Views]
  10. POLL: Should trophy and big game hunting be banned? [5382 Views]