Bird and wildlife enthusiasts and photographers, grab a front row seat for the exotic courtship dance of the Wisconsin native prairie chicken through viewings offered by the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
The viewings are held throughout April at the Buena Vista Marsh, located about eight miles south of Stevens Point adjacent to County Highway W. Special blinds offer the opportunity to quietly observe and photograph the male birds as they strut, hop and make a “booming” bassoon-like sound as they inflate and deflate their bright orange air sacs to establish their territory and impress female hens.
The viewing also helps the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources survey the number of prairie chickens on the booming ground. Data collected by viewers helps the WDNR monitor the status and trends of Central Wisconsin’s threatened prairie chicken population.
The viewings begin before dawn and last approximately two hours. Guides at the marsh will direct viewers to their blinds. Preregistration is required at a fee of $15 for adults and $10 for students and senior citizens. The fee defrays the cost of the guides and helps maintain the viewing blinds.
Registration is offered on a first-come, first-served basis through Beth Blicharz of UW-Stevens Point Becoming an Outdoors-Woman at firstname.lastname@example.org, 715-346-3259 or 877-269-6626. For more information, a calendar of availability or a mail-in reservation form, go to www.uwsp.edu/wildlife/pchicken/index.aspx.