We left at 3:30 a.m. to reach predawn and stealthily crept by way of the nippiness darkness to attend at our blind. The faintest mild appeared…slowly the males got here…the dancing and the booming, reverberating-through-your-body, other-worldly sounds started. We had been watching the lek mating rituals of Higher Prairie-Chickens.
Males collect and show at their mating grounds every spring. They quickly stamp their ft and produce the booming sounds by inflating the orange air sacs on the perimeters of their neck, the sound comes from air passing by way of the syrinx and is amplified by the sacs, an extension of the esophagus. Males additionally make cackling and whooping noises. Females then arrive and determine which male to mate with, whereas the males compete for females. Females normally select older, extra skilled males with longer legs, bigger eye combs, and the most effective territories inside the lek. After mating the females nest and lift the younger themselves.
This came about quite a few years in the past (after we had been with our mates Gary and Diane Cole) on the Prairie Ridge Pure Space, Illinois, the one remaining place east of the Mississippi the place Higher Prairie-Chickens, a declining species, could be discovered on their historic grounds.