Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Chicken and Stars Tour

The Nebraska Nature and Visitor Center (NNVC) is pleased to offer the Chicken and Stars tour -- an opportunity to view two of the prairie's signature birds, the greater prairie chicken and sharptail grouse -- in the Nebraska Sandhills.

The trip begins the afternoon of Friday, April 9; participants will drive on their own to the Sandhills Motel in Mullen, NE. If skies that evening are clear, NNVC program coordinator Dan Glomski will lead a viewing and photography session of the beautiful Sandhills night sky.

Participants then rise predawn Saturday morning to witness close-up the dances of the prairie chickens and grouse on their breeding grounds, known as leks. The males seek to attract females while fighting off other males; they inflate their air sacs (orange on the chicken, purple on the grouse), as the prairie chickens make an eerie call likened to blowing crossways along the top of a soda bottle.

Saturday afternoon, participants travel to the Nebraska National Forest at Halsey for hiking and photography. From here, participants may either leave for home or stay for an additional evening of night sky viewing (weather permitting) and a second morning of prairie chicken and grouse viewing.

Cost of the tour is $125 per person for a single participant; double occupancy, $75/person. The cost includes Friday night accommodations at Sandhills Motel and guided morning viewing and photography of the prairie chicken and sharptail lek. Meals are not included. Saturday evening accommodations and Sunday morning chicken/sharptail viewing are optional and must be arranged by participants.

For more information, contact Dan Glomski at info@nebraskanature.org or 308-382-1820. Space on the tour is very limited, and participants are strongly encouraged to make reservations as soon as possible. Deadline for signup is March 20.

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