Discover Oklahoma: Prairie chicken conservation focus of festival

BY AUSTIN TACKETT Published: April 5, 2009
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photo - This bird is the inspiration for the Lesser Prairie Chicken Festival, which will be April 17-22 in Woodward. pHOTO BY NOPPADOL PAOTHONG
This bird is the inspiration for the Lesser Prairie Chicken Festival, which will be April 17-22 in Woodward. pHOTO BY NOPPADOL PAOTHONG
Spring brings out the nature lover in many people, and luckily Oklahoma is full of spring activities that get us a little closer to Mother Earth.

One such opportunity is the Lesser Prairie Chicken Festival presented by the Oklahoma Audubon Council. The bird-watching event will be April 17-22 in Woodward.

Once hunted for sport, the lesser prairie chicken is now a rapidly vanishing bird found primarily in the sand hills and prairies of Western Oklahoma, as well as the Texas Panhandle and parts of Kansas and Colorado. The bird has seen sharp declines in population since 1800 and is a candidate for species protection under the Endangered Species Act. The bird becomes most active in the spring when males gather to court females. The lesser prairie chicken’s vulnerability, combined with its limited prairie environment, has made it a must-see for birding enthusiast and nature lovers who wish to see the bird protected.

The Lesser Prairie Chicken Festival offers visitors the rare chance to see the species in its natural booming grounds as males display their courtship rituals.

Special guests at the festival include award-winning Oklahoma artist and blogger Debby Kaspari and nationally revered birding author Sharon Stiteler.

The festival will include various bird and nature viewing activities, workshops, conservation treks and sight seeing opportunities.



IF YOU GO
For more information, call the Woodward Tourism Bureau at (580) 256-9990. Visitors to the Lesser Prairie Chicken Festival can also go online to www.TravelOK.com for travel ideas and discounts or call (800) 652-6552 to talk to a tourism counselor.

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