NORTH PLATTE, Neb. -(Ammoland.com)- The public can view greater prairie-chickens and Sandhill cranes at public viewing blinds.
A greater prairie-chicken viewing blind has been established southwest of North Platte at the Nebraska Cooperative Republican Platte Enhancement Project (NCORPE) property.
The NCORPE project in cooperation with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has set up a viewing trailer blind on a prairie-chicken lek. A lek is a specific area where the birds gather to display their mating rituals year-after-year.
The public is invited to view the spectacular mating rituals of the male prairie-chickens and will be able to interact in the bird’s environment and see the importance for conservation of habitat for these birds.
Prairie-chickens are an overlooked native species that put on a great mating show. Males will drum their feet and strut in their territory while keeping other males away in their attempts to attract a female.
The males have brightly colored air sacs on the sides of their necks that they inflate and “ear-like” pinnae feathers that they raise and lower during their dances.
The viewing blind is available Monday thru Friday, March 20 to April 28, and Sat. April 8, and 22 and Sun. April 2, 16, and 30. Other weekend dates may be available upon request.
Viewing sessions begin 1.5 hours before sunrise so that viewers can get into the blind without disturbing the prairie-chickens in their natural habitat.
A crane viewing blind is available for public viewing at North River Wildlife Management Area (WMA) between North Platte and Hershey.
The crane viewing blind has cranes roosting many evenings in the river in front of the blind. Several thousand cranes will fill the sky as they fly the river channel in front of the blind as they look for places to rest for the night. The sights and sounds from the blind are spectacular.
Getting to the blind requires a half-mile hike on a designated path from the east parking lot of the WMA over mostly level terrain. Water resistant footwear and dressing for the weather is recommended. The blind has room for about eight adults.
Crane viewing etiquette is listed along with a map and designated path to the blind at the parking area and in the blind. The blind is available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Directions to the WMA are: from Hershey drive north on North Hershey Road 3 miles to Wildlife Road, turn right and go almost 2 miles east on the gravel. The parking lot will be on the south side of the road.
For more information call the North Platte Game and Parks office at 308-535-8025.