Matfield Green - Our first years

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Dance of the Prairie Chickens

It could have been a modern dance piece with music by John Cage. We, the audience, were there before dawn. The guests of Jane Koger, seven of us including our host, sitting in a small hut - a "blind" - on the top of a hill that Jane had mowed to just the length the birds prefer for their mating dance.

The curtain rose later than usual and Jane was palpably nervous until the first of the male prairie chickens made his entrance about about 7 am, several minutes behind schedule. 6 more males joined him in the course of just a few minutes. Over the next two hours they preaned and puffed and stomped and made their booming noise - a hooting song that apparently serves the purpose of attracting females to the booming ground (also called a lek).

Two females appeared while we were there. They reviewed their prospective mates and decided, so it seems, to shop around for awhile before making their choice.

Jane served coffee and snacks and afterwards we went back to the Tallgrass Spiritual Retreat Center, where Billie Blair cooked us breakfast.

Bill's brother and sister-in-law planned their first visit to the Flint Hills around this event. No one was disappointed.

Jane still has a few spots left in the blind for this viewing season. Check it out at


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