We decided to do a driving trip through ten states, and do some birding along the way. Realizing that mid-May is likely after the displaying season for prairie-chickens, I wrote to two sources in Nebraska asking about the possibility of seeing these birds, which would be lifers for us.
Both sources recommended we touch base with Big Blue Ranch near Burchard, Nebraska.
We contacted the ranch and made a reservation to stay one night at their lodge. The beautiful lodge is in a spectacular setting, on their cattle ranch and near a lake. The accomodations were excellent. We sat on the porch in the evening and listened to several grassland birds as well as coyotes howling.
The next morning, owners Scott and Billie Kay Bodie picked us up before dawn and we were soon sitting in a cattle trailer parked on a hill in a grass field. Shortly, a small flock of Greater Prairie-chickens flew into the lek about 40 feet in front of us. Six males spent the next hour and a half displaying, fighting and making all manner of sounds.
It was an unforgettable experience, and I can't recommend the Big Blue Ranch highly enough.
If you need this bird or want to see them "booming," this is a great place to go. You'll find them at www.bigblueranch.com.