Dancing Chickens

Gathering at ancient breeding grounds each spring, the males passionately spar for dominance and mating rights. By stomping the ground, erecting pinnae feathers, flutter jumping, and sounding their trademark booming call, they connect age to age on the sweeping prairie.”

—Sarah Sortum, ecotourism manager, Calamus Outfitters

Private guides will make sure you’re in the front seat for the dancing display of this prairie icon. Bundle up, March and April in a bird blind can be chilly—but it’s worth it!

Year after year, birds gather on a lek (an area of patted-down grass) to perform mating dances. Once able to roam endless stretches of grassland, corridors between populations are dwindling, reducing populations in many areas. Nebraska, Kansas, and South Dakota have the largest populations of chickens.


Chicken Dance Trail

(308) 995-4601
701 4th Avenue
Holdrege, NE 68949

The Chicken Dance Trail provides opportunities to see not just prairie chickens, but a multitude of other bird species in south central and southwestern Nebraska. The Chicken Dance Trail is not a physical location, but a website full of insider information about canyons, reservoirs, and creeks where you’re sure to spot the birds on your bucket list—as well as rural communities to explore along the way. The Chicken Dance Trail organizes the information into five birdwatching trails that travelers can take independently, at their own pace.

Greater Prairie Chicken ~ Booming

Calamus Outfitters

(308) 346-4697
Burwell Way
Burwell, NE 68823

Calamus Outfitters is a family-owned business providing outdoor recreational activities for diverse kinds of tourists: from hunters, to serious birdwatchers to families who want to float down the river or lounge at the nearby Calamus Reservoir. The operation is located in the north central Nebraska Sandhills, near Burwell, right along the Calamus Reservoir, a prominent regional tourist attraction. Calamus Outfitters is located on the Switzer Ranch, a fourth generation cattle operation.

Activities: hunting, river trips, bird watching, safari jeep tours, ranch tours, specialty events, specialty meals

Sandhills Motel & Glidden Canoe Rental

1 (888) 278-6167
507 SW 1st St.
Mullen, NE 69152

Nestled in the Nebraska Sandhills, the Sandhills Motel and Glidden Canoe Rental lays at the western edge of Mullen, the only town in Hooker County. Mitch Glidden was one of the first in the state to offer guided viewing opportunities of Prairie Chicken and Sharptail Grouse in Nebraska. He works with area landowners to bring visitors to viewing blinds in key locations, booking groups of up to 16 people for viewings that last from two to four hours.

Prairie Chicken Dance Tours

(308) 345-1200
402 Norris Avenue, Room 318
McCook, NE 69001

Prairie Chicken Dance Tours is a joint effort between McCook / Red Willow County Tourism and the Southwest Nebraska Resource Conservation and Development District (SWNRCD) with the support of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and Nebraska Tourism Commission. Their mission is to offer the opportunity to view this natural phenomena to novice and experienced bird watchers and, in doing so, increase the appreciation for the unique creatures that we share this part of the world with.

Activities: Prairie chicken viewing in blinds

 

Know of an ecotourist-friendly place in the Great Plains to see prairie chickens? Email us at cgps@unl.edu