Prairie Chicken & Sharptail Grouse Viewing

A Prairie Chicken photographed on the Switzer Ranch at Calamus Outfitters Credit: Joel Sartore
The prairie chicken and it's mating dance have been a part of the Nebraska prairie for years. The dance of the prairie chicken is now a major sight seeing event and Calamus Outfitters has a great opportunity for you to view these dances. Also found on the ranch are sharptail grouse, who also perform a similar mating ritual that can be viewed. Calamus Outfitters has access to a large booming area, or lek, where prairie chickens & grouse gather for their mating ritual.

A trio of Nebraska sharptail grouse in the middle of their courtship dance Credit: Joel Sartore
The dances of the prairie chicken & grouse are majestic and entertaining for all who view it. These native prairie birds jump, prance and pose against their competition trying to gain the attention of the female.

This display consists of inflating air sacs located on the side of their neck and snapping their tails. The booming grounds will usually have very short to no vegetation, and the male prairie chickens will stay on this ground displaying for almost two months.

A trio of prairie chickens on the booming lek at Calamus Outfitters Credit: Joel Sartore
With years of experience watching, observing and learning their mating habits and locations, Calamus Outfitters has developed prairie chicken & grouse booming trips for you.

Mating season in NE is late March into April. The males establish booming sites where they display for the females. The one or two most dominant males will do about 90% of the mating. After mating, the females will move about a mile from the booming grounds and begin to build nests.

A group of prairie chicken viewers get off the bus at the booming grounds at Calamus Outfitters Credit: Michael Forsberg
Calamus Outfitters has a converted school bus that we use to transport our guests to and from the prairie chicken booming grounds on the Switzer Ranch. Here you will be able to view the grounds from the bus or venture to one of our field blinds.

Make sure you come prepared. March and April can provide extreme temperature changes and everything from winter blizzards to 80-degree heat. Bring your digital camera, and of course layered clothing.

Other area events include the Nebraska Prairie Chicken Festival and the Sandhill Crane Festival. Download details here.