The Lesser Prairie Chicken Festival is this weekend in Woodward and there are still spots available Sunday and Monday for the prairie chicken tours.
Prairie chickens are close to being listed as a threatened species. The plethora of windmills on the western Oklahoma prairie is not helping as the birds view the windwills as raptor roosts.
Each spring is the mating season of lesser prairie chickens, and the courtship is grand theater.
Every morning, the males gather at “leks” — places of high ground where they can display their plumage and colors for the females and keep a wary eye on potential predators. When a hen comes by looking for a mate, the show begins. The males do their best to look active and fit for the hens, dancing and cackling, and occasionally even fighting with their competitors.
The possibility that these birds will not be around in the future has bird watchers from across the country coming to northwestern Oklahoma this weekend to witness this show.
People from a dozen states have signed up for the viewings, some from as far away as California, New York and Wyoming.
“We still have openings on Sunday and Monday mornings, and most of the other field trips also have openings,” said John Kennington of the Oklahoma Audubon Council. “We can accept registrations at the door, but I would encourage folks to call me first at (918) 809-6325 to check on availability.”
For more information on the Lesser Prairie Chicken Festival, visit www.okaudubon.org.