Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mischief on the Lek

     Over the years, I've had opportunity to observe a number of wildlife interactions while watching prairie chickens.  Included is a selection of some of the very interesting behaviors witnessed between prairie chickens and other critters.  I wish my video of a Peregrine Falcon swooping on some Greater Prairie Chickens was better as I would have shown it.  I've also witnessed a Prairie Falcon doing the same thing on a Lesser Prairie Chicken lek.  And then there are those numerous Northern Harrier fly by's and dives which usually disperse the birds briefly but not always.  In all these cases, the chickens are only temporarily dissuaded from their dancing and displaying.  So, here's a sampling of not-so-serious booming ground battles.
Friend Tom Hutton sent this picture of an American Crow which visited while he and his wife were watching the Lessers at a lek on which I've had a portable blind from the Ks. Dept. of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism set up each spring for many years.  Tom said this crow was trying to imitate some of the male chicken's behavior by bobbing its head and squatting.  Silly crows!

One of the funniest encounters I've witnessed is these two calves chasing some chickens.  They couldn't hold back their curiosity.  The chickens stayed put mostly, acting a bit disgusted at the silly youngsters!

Coyotes at the lek are always interesting.  Most of the time, they will walk through a lek fully realizing that they can't catch these birds.  And the birds know it as well.  Many times, some of the chickens don't even bother to flush; they just hunker down and wait till the coyote(s) leave.  At about 17 seconds, you'll see that one chicken does flush as one coyote gets just a little too close.

Sometimes a pheasant will come by.  While this footage shows one in the back of the lek trying to figure things out, I've heard of accounts where the rooster pheasant tries to interact and "fight" with a male chicken.

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