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Iowa’s Prairie Chicken Festival is April 6

  • 3/26/2024 11:34:00 AM
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Kellerton, Iowa – The unique courtship of Iowa’s prairie chickens will be on full display at the Kellerton Grasslands Bird Conservation Area on April 6, during the annual Prairie Chicken Festival, in Ringgold County. The festival will be held at the Kellerton viewing platform, two miles west and one mile south of Kellerton. There is ample parking and the viewing platform is accessible for those with limited mobility.

Viewing will begin before dawn and last until the birds diminish their courtship dancing and booming, around 8 a.m.

Iowa began reintroducing prairie chickens in the 1980s, then released additional wild birds captured in western Nebraska from 2012-17, to supplement the population and add genetic diversity. To date, the population is holding steady, but at fairly low numbers, said Stephanie Shepherd, wildlife biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Wildlife Diversity Program.

“Although stable, our population is around 65-70 birds at the Grand River Grasslands, which is low, and we’re not sure what their future is, so if you want to see them, now is the time,” she said.

During the festival the DNR will be onsite to help put spotting scopes on birds and to answer questions.

“The birds will be a good distance from the viewing platform so we are encouraging attendees to bring either a spotting scope or pair of binoculars,” she said. A limited number of scopes will be on hand for those who need them.

Can’t make it on April 6? The chickens will be displaying likely through the end of the month. Dusk is also a good time to view the birds because the sun is in the west, though the birds may be a little less active.

Kellerton is one of the premier grasslands in the state, for more than prairie chickens, but for other grassland birds as well. “It’s a really neat area for people to get a feel for what an expansive grassland looks like,” she said.