[Tweeters] OT: update on Lesser Prairie-Chickens, CO & KS

heapbigdoc at netscape.net heapbigdoc at netscape.net
Thu Jun 15 18:26:13 PDT 2017


Hi Tweets-

We've been on a birding trip to Eastern Colorado with a brief detour into western Kansas. I'm planning a longer boring summary for later, but for now I wanted to pass on some info that might be interesting to people thinking about traveling to Colorado to look for fancy chickens.

First, the Greater Prairie-Chicken leks near Wray still seem to be going concern, although as expected the dancing season was over before we got here on 6/7 (darn work and family commitments).

The bad news is the status of Lesser Prairie-Chickens. If you have looked into this at all, you probably already know that the lek near Campo in Baca County, CO has been closed for several years due to population decline. But according to all the sources I could find before this trip, the lek in the Cimarron National Grassland north of Elkhart, KS was still a possibility.

Figuring that it was unlikely but not impossible that we might see birds, we spent a morning in the area. No luck as expected. But then we stopped by the Cimarron NG Ranger station in Elkhart where we found out that the birds are gone from the area. The drought that started in 2007 destroyed too much sand sage habitat. The National Grassland took down some of the pages related to the lek, but they still have a page about the chickens and haven't posted anything saying "don't bother". So here's my news - for now, don't bother trying to find Lesser Prairie-Chickens in the Elkhart Area.

There is a ray of hope. Eastern Colorado and Western Kansas had a very wet spring. The Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologist we met on Baca County Road M on our way back toward Campo (continuing the search for Blue Grosbeaks) was tracking radio collared LPCHs and told us that there were several nesting pairs in Baca County. Obviously I didn't ask where (I hope she wouldn't have told me) but the birds are there and if the drought has broken for real, she's optimistic.

Roy Myers, Electric City, WA
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