A Most Flamboyant Display

PRAIRIE CHICKEN – Spring RiteHeres a program from our archives.ambience: Prairie ChickenMany people enjoy their own personal rite of spring. It may be washing the car, flying a kite, or going fishing. And for a select few, it’s waking up very early in the morning to take in one of the nature’s most flamboyant displays – the courtship of the Greater Prairie Chicken. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Every Spring, in the tall grass prairies of the midwest, male Prairie Chickens gather in the predawn hours to attract a mate. They do this by drumming their feet, spreading their tail feathers, inflating their air sacs and making these striking calls.Now also every spring, Professor Richard Prum of the University of Kansas is on hand as an appreciative witness to this remarkable display.Prum: Seeing the Prairie Chicken courtship display is one of the more amazing naturalistic experiences you can have in North America, in the United States. In order to see it, one has to get up way before dawn and get into a blind or a tent that hides you from the birds themselves. The Prairie Chickens are very skittish around people. As soon as they see a human being the birds will be very scared and won’t display for many hours. In Kansas, every year I take students down to the Prairie Chicken booming grounds south of campus. And every year, it’s kind of a challenge finding the spot. You’ll arrive in the pitch black and you sort of have to, by dead reckoning, head up a hill and determine where on the hill you should put up your tent and set up the tent quickly, get inside the tent in hopes that you’ll finish the whole process before first light. For transcripts of this and other programs in our series, please visit our web site at pulseplanet.com. This archival program is part of our thirtieth anniversary celebration. If you want hear more, check out our podcast.

A Most Flamboyant Display

Part of the ritual of witnessing the mating rites of prairie chickens is waking up before sunrise and finding the right location - in total darkness.
Air Date:03/29/2021
Scientist:
Transcript:

PRAIRIE CHICKEN - Spring RiteHeres a program from our archives.ambience: Prairie ChickenMany people enjoy their own personal rite of spring. It may be washing the car, flying a kite, or going fishing. And for a select few, it's waking up very early in the morning to take in one of the nature's most flamboyant displays - the courtship of the Greater Prairie Chicken. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Every Spring, in the tall grass prairies of the midwest, male Prairie Chickens gather in the predawn hours to attract a mate. They do this by drumming their feet, spreading their tail feathers, inflating their air sacs and making these striking calls.Now also every spring, Professor Richard Prum of the University of Kansas is on hand as an appreciative witness to this remarkable display.Prum: Seeing the Prairie Chicken courtship display is one of the more amazing naturalistic experiences you can have in North America, in the United States. In order to see it, one has to get up way before dawn and get into a blind or a tent that hides you from the birds themselves. The Prairie Chickens are very skittish around people. As soon as they see a human being the birds will be very scared and won't display for many hours. In Kansas, every year I take students down to the Prairie Chicken booming grounds south of campus. And every year, it's kind of a challenge finding the spot. You'll arrive in the pitch black and you sort of have to, by dead reckoning, head up a hill and determine where on the hill you should put up your tent and set up the tent quickly, get inside the tent in hopes that you'll finish the whole process before first light. For transcripts of this and other programs in our series, please visit our web site at pulseplanet.com. This archival program is part of our thirtieth anniversary celebration. If you want hear more, check out our podcast.