Prairie Grouse Census

Date:  April 6, 2012

This is a continuation of a monitoring project began by the Gracie Creek Landowners 2 years ago.  With the aid of volunteers, as many leks (both Prairie Chicken and Grouse) on the project area as possible are surveyed.  Data gathered includes number of males/females, weather conditions, distance to predatory perches and grazing management of the area.

This map shows some of the identified Leks on the Project Area.  The buffer zones show probable high use nesting areas.  Identifying these zones has helped landowners prioritize management actions in specific areas of respective ranches.

Here is one volunteer’s experience.

Lek Name/Type:  Sharp-tailed Grouse lek on Switzer 80.

  • First chuckle at 6:45 AM  4/2/11  40 Degrees, Calm wind, Brief/Very light rain as birds arrived.
  • Great horned owl in the area.
  • Lek on tall hill approx. 75 yards from the blind on adjacent hilltop.
  • Nearest trees >1/4 mile to SEàSW
  • Hoots, chuckles and cries in pulses—jump flights and stand-offs.
  • Approx. 10 males visible on top and north slope at 7:20.
  • 7:15-7:19 pause—crows in background just before sunrise.
  • More birds on adjacent lower ridge to the west.
  • A couple more birds fly in at 7:30.  Overcast broken by now.
  • 7:35  Grouse flies from lek and lands on blind.  Then a minute later flies back to lek.  Another female flies in.
  • 7:40  14 males and 2 females visible.  Could be twice as many unseen on south slope.
  • 7:54  Another female arrives.
  • 7:58  Birds 2-3 leave lek…fly offs.
  • 8:00  Another female visible.  Could be 25-30 males with those on other side.