Dangerous Display

PRAIRIE CHICKEN – Dangerous Displaymusic; ambience: Prairie ChickenGo for an early morning walk in the tall grass prairies of the midwest, and you might be lucky enough to hear this sound – the call of the Greater Prairie Chicken. This time of year, it’s their mating season. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History. Richard Prum is an associate professor at the University of Kansas.”The displaying male begins by drumming his feet on the ground, producing a series of ‘pdpdpd’ sounds. He then leans forward and he raises a series of neck feathers over his head as a small crest. He cocks the tail and spreads the tail feathers and opens the wings slightly at his sides. In this bowing posture, with the tail cocked, he produces a series of booms, ‘phoo-hoo-hoo’ and as the booms are produced, he inflates large yellow airsacs on the sides of his neck. So it’s really a mixture of visual and acoustic stimuli that the male is presenting to the female.”The male Prairie Chickens perform their displays to attract females in an open area called a lek. But this striking behavior also attracts some unwanted guests.”One of the more important predators in this area is the coyote. They are frequently on the edges of the lek, observing the males during this display. Other major predators of Prairie Chickens are birds of prey: hawks and eagles. I’ve been at Prairie Chicken leks where there were so many marsh hawks, swooping at the displaying males, they were unable to display for more than 10 or 15 minutes at a time and were unable really to attract any females to the lek in the morning.For transcripts of this and other programs in our series, please visit our web site at . Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. I’m Jim Metzner.

Dangerous Display

Although prairie chicken males need to strut their stuff to attract mates, they run the risk of attracting some unwanted visitors.
Air Date:03/12/2020
Scientist:
Transcript:

PRAIRIE CHICKEN - Dangerous Displaymusic; ambience: Prairie ChickenGo for an early morning walk in the tall grass prairies of the midwest, and you might be lucky enough to hear this sound - the call of the Greater Prairie Chicken. This time of year, it's their mating season. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History. Richard Prum is an associate professor at the University of Kansas."The displaying male begins by drumming his feet on the ground, producing a series of 'pdpdpd' sounds. He then leans forward and he raises a series of neck feathers over his head as a small crest. He cocks the tail and spreads the tail feathers and opens the wings slightly at his sides. In this bowing posture, with the tail cocked, he produces a series of booms, 'phoo-hoo-hoo' and as the booms are produced, he inflates large yellow airsacs on the sides of his neck. So it's really a mixture of visual and acoustic stimuli that the male is presenting to the female."The male Prairie Chickens perform their displays to attract females in an open area called a lek. But this striking behavior also attracts some unwanted guests."One of the more important predators in this area is the coyote. They are frequently on the edges of the lek, observing the males during this display. Other major predators of Prairie Chickens are birds of prey: hawks and eagles. I've been at Prairie Chicken leks where there were so many marsh hawks, swooping at the displaying males, they were unable to display for more than 10 or 15 minutes at a time and were unable really to attract any females to the lek in the morning.For transcripts of this and other programs in our series, please visit our web site at . Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. I'm Jim Metzner.