Illinois Prairie Chicken Lek Trip I- FULL
April 9 @ 5:30 am - 9:30 am EDT
to see the rare and endangered Greater Prairie-Chicken.
This trip crosses the state line to nearby Prairie Ridge State Natural Area near Newton Illinois, where a successful partnership between Illinois DNR and Illinois Audubon Society has maintained the last breeding population of this endangered species in Illinois.
Watching from the inside of a small blind, participants will witness an amazing event, the group breeding, or lekking, behavior of the Greater Prairie-Chicken. As they gather at the lek, males spread their tails, stomp their feet, and make awesome low-frequency “booming” sounds to impress watching females. The close proximity of the birds to the blinds offers excellent photograph opportunities. After viewing the lek, trip participants will have the opportunity to carpool and seek out additional grassland specialty species including Northern Harrier, American Golden-Plover, Pectoral Sandpiper, Loggerhead Shrike, Smith’s Longspur, and Henslow’s Sparrow. The trip will conclude by lunch time.
This special field trip is led by IAS seasoned field trip leader, Amy Kearns. Registered participants will meet at the Prairie Ridge State Natural Area office at 4:30 AM CDT (5:30 AM Indianapolis time). Participants should bring a flashlight or headlamp for the early start, as well as boots for walking a quarter mile on muddy level ground. The blinds can be very chilly so dress warm and be prepared to spend 3 hours sitting quiet and still in the blind to avoid disturbing the displaying birds. Due to the close quarters in the blind, there won’t be room for three legged tripods, however, photographers are welcome to bring monopods to stabilize long lenses.
Trips are offered on Saturday and Sunday, April 9 and 10, 2022. Each trip is limited to 10 participants. A waiting list will be set up once the trips fill. Registration is $40 for Indiana Audubon members ($50 for non-members) and includes all guiding and blind fees. In case of inclement weather the trip will be canceled and refunds issued.
A portion of each registration will be donated to Illinois Audubon Society to assist with habitat management at Prairie Ridge SNA. If overnight stay is desired, the recommended nearby hotel is the Cobblestone Hotel in Newton, IL. For more information about the trip or the logistics, message Amy Kearns.
(Greater Prairie Chicken photo by Michael Jeffords)