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Wisconsin's Prairie Chickens

Viewing

Every spring volunteers from across the state and the country come to the Buena Vista Grassland to aid in the spring prairie chicken census.  The sunrise, the booming males, the fresh air, and the endless horizons are the rewards to those who participate.
 
About the Census
 
Approximately 12,000 acres of land on the Buena Vista marsh are presently being managed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to provide wide horizons and grasslands for prairie chickens. Every spring the birds of Buena Vista must be counted to keep track of the population trends and evaluate management effectiveness.
 
The census consists of finding all booming grounds and counting the attending males. This provides an index to population trends that is quite reliable because of the routine behavior of the males and their affinity to specific booming grounds. If the total number of males increases, we assume that the entire population has increased proportionately.
 
Many of the grounds are monitored by volunteers that drive from ground to ground counting early in the morning. Not all grounds are in good view of the roads, and many must be counted by volunteers in blinds on the booming grounds. Every April these blinds must be filled by volunteers from the public. Viewing the chickens booming is a wonderful experience not soon forgotten, and, at the same time, it provides aid in the tracking of this threatened species.
 
Reservation Information
 
Reservations will be taken for observing prairie chickens on the Buena Vista Marsh for the month of April. This is an early morning event. You will meet a guide at a designated location and follow them via car to the site approximately 2 hours before sunrise. At each site the guide will give you instructions and data sheets. Each booming ground is a short walk from the road. There are two blinds at each site and each blind holds four people. Each blind is enclosed with benches inside. There is a fee to defray the cost of maintaining blinds and guiding observers.
 
The cost (per person) for viewing the prairie chickens is $15 for adults and $10 for kids under 18, students enrolled in college, or seniors over 55.

Reservations for the 2019 viewing season will be taken beginning January 22, 2019.
 
 

 
 
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