What to Expect
Before the grass is green, before the frost has melted out of the deep prairie sod, the greater prairie chickens are out on their lek, bustling about the cluster of territories that the male grouse vigorously defend day after day for months on end. They're performing the age-old ritual of spring. The greater prairie chickens that made it through the challenges of winter will have the opportunity to multiply and share the summer bounty with a fresh brood of newly hatched chicks.
In order to fully experience the spring on the prairie, you'll awaken early in order to hide away in a viewing blind well before the sun makes its gradual appearance. The prairie chickens have chosen this spot well in advance of your arrival, having staked out their territories in the fall and winter months.
As twilight advances, the motion of the male chickens will slowly become visible, and then as if turned on by a light switch, the booming will begin. After this, the prairie comes alive with sound, motion and excitement.
In order to make your visit the best it can be...
- Be sure to get reservations early, since many blinds are booked in advance, especially during the weekends of late April and early May.
- If possible, visit the blind the day before, to familiarize yourself with the trail in to the blind. If you can't make it in advance, be sure to bring a flashlight so you can find the way.
- Wear warm clothes! Even if the weather forecast is for warm and sunny, chances are you will be in the blind at the coldest part of the day. Paying attention to the overnight low temperature and the wind speed will tell you a lot, but be prepared in case snow starts to fall or the wind picks up.
- Snacks, binoculars and a blanket are recommended.
- Don't stick your hands or head outside the blind; the chickens might object.
- Please let others know about the experience. Better yet, join the MPCS in our efforts to conserve the greater prairie chicken and please share your stories with us at our annual meeting!
Where to Go
The Crookston Convention and Visitors Bureau handles reservations for the blinds located on The Nature Conservancy's Glacial Ridge Project as well as the blind located at the Rydell National Wildlife Refuge. These blinds are located near Mentor, MN. For reservations, contact the Bureau at (218) 281-4320 or 1-800-809-5997. Reservations may be made Monday thru Friday 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Their email address is email@example.com.
The Crookston DNR office handles reservations for one blind located on the Pembina Trail SNA located southeast of Crookston. For information and reservations, contact Ross at (218) 281-6063.
The Twin Valley Heritage Center handles the reservations for two blinds located southwest of Twin Valley, MN. For more information and reservations, contact the Heritage Center at (218) 584-5658.
The Nature Conservancy handles reservations for two blinds located at the Bluestem Prairie SNA, located southeast of Glyndon, MN. For information and reservations, contact Sonia at (218) 498-2679 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
There are blinds located at the Hamden Slough National Wildlife Refuge, northwest of Detroit Lakes, MN. Reservations for this blind can be made by contacting the US Fish and Wildlife Service office in Detroit Lakes at (218) 847-4431.
The Fergus Falls DNR office will be handling the reservations for one blind located about five miles west of Rothsay, MN. For reservations, contact Mary at (218) 739-7576 ext 238.
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has an observation blind at Lonetree Wildlife Management Area southwest of Harvey, N.D. Call (701) 324-2211 for reservations.
Contact the following National Wildlife Refuges for information on blind reservations:
Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge, Kenmare, (701) 848-2722
Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge, Kenmare, (701) 385-4046
Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Moffit, (701) 387-4397
Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge, Pingree, (701) 285-3341
Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge, Berthold, (701) 468-5467
J. Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge, Upham, (701) 768-2548