Bird watching at Calamus Outfitters
The Switzer Ranch is in the heart of Audubon's Greater Gracie Creek Important Bird Area, the first privately owned IBA in the state of Nebraska. Primarily known for Greater Prairie-Chicken and Sharp-tailed Grouse viewing, many other bird species can be seen in the area.
Greater Prairie-Chicken & Sharp-tailed Grouse Lek Tours March 15-April 30 (closed on Easter Sunday)
Blinds are available to view Greater Prairie-Chickens and Sharp-tailed Grouse on their respective leks (breeding grounds). Morning lek tours include transportation, guide(s), and breakfast. Packages are available for those who wish to include supper and lodging at Calamus Outfitters during their visit. See Package Price List. *NOTE* All linens provided for birding packages. Reservations are required and payment in full must be made at the time of your reservation.
- We are an easy 2 hour drive from both Kearney and Grand Island, Nebraska.
- If you are driving in on the morning of your scheduled tour, please call a day or two in advance to check on departure times.
- The blinds are NOT heated and do not have restrooms. A short walk to the blind over uneven terrain will be necessary. Please dress accordingly.
- We usually spend 1 to 1 and 1/2 hours in the blind in the early morning depending on the activity of the birds and weather.
- Cameras are welcome (no flash, no sound if possible) and tripods are allowed depending on blind space (please be respectful of your neighbor).
- The blinds are converted school buses and you will most likely be a part of a group. Private photo blinds are not available.
- The prairie-chickens and grouse utilize different leks, so it is not possible to see both species the same morning (tours are available in the morning only).
- Tours take place on the Switzer Ranch, which is private land with no public access. We take every measure to prevent disturbing the birds while they are on the lek, including asking guests to remain quiet in the blinds and follow instructions to and from the blinds. We (and the birds) thank you for your cooperation.
Bird Watching in the Area
With early spring (mid-March through April) being the best time to visit to see the prairie grouse, there are other excellent bird watching opportunities during this time. Calamus Reservoir attracts migrating waterfowl, Bald Eagles and American White Pelicans, often in large numbers. Harris's Sparrow is another sought after bird that can be found in the area. Guides and transportation are available by request for general bird watching in the area, mainly surrounding the adjacent Calamus Reservoir/State Recreation Area (please contact us for pricing). To see a more extensive list of bird species for the area, search Loup County, Nebraska in eBird.
The adjacent Calamus Reservoir/State Recreation Area is a popular and easily accessible birding hotspot. State vehicle permits are required for entry (available at the Calamus Outfitters Store). There are also many other great birding spots within a 50 mile radius. Feel free to give us a call or ask for more information at the office.
Sandhills Ranch Habitat Ecotours
Exploring the Switzer Ranch in an open air jeep is a great way to experience the unique Sandhills landscape and a great way to see birds. These safari style tours are guided by members of the Switzer family and include information on the history and management of the ranch as well as the many ongoing conservation projects that have been implemented to support habitat for grassland species. Click here for more information.
Nebraska Prairie-Chicken Festival Due to Covid-19 concerns, we have cancelled the 2021 festival.
Call us at 308-346-4697 for reservations. Or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. All trips are by reservation only. Thank you.
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