Once-endangered species makes a comeback on the plains of Colorado
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY —The high county may still be snowed in, but out on the plains of Colorado, greater prairie chickens are beginning their spring mating rituals, and through a partnership between Colorado Parks and Wildlife and local ranchers, wildlife enthusiasts will have a chance to view the amazing sandhill dancers.
On weekends throughout March and April, guided tours will available through the Wray Chamber of Commerce, with reservations required (Call 970-332-3484 for more information).
“Many birders visit Wray to see the prairie chickens and mark them off their “Life Lists” for bird watching,” said Josh Melby, district wildlife manager for Wray, ” What they find here is one of the most fascinating and memorable mating rituals they’ll ever see in the wild.”
Greater prairie chickens were declared endangered in 1972 but have recovered due to cooperative efforts of local landowners and the Colorado Parks and Wildlife. There are approximately 10,000 to 12,000 greater prairie chickens in the state at this time, most of which live on private property in the sandhill region of northeast Colorado.
The greater prairie chicken tours are made possible through a cooperative effort of Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the East Yuma County Historical Society, the Wray Chamber of Commerce, and local landowners and volunteers. The town of Wray is located on US hwy 34, about three hours driving time from Denver or Fort Collins.
Did you know?
- Colorado is home to 9 species of grouse; the greater prairie chicken, lesser prairie chicken, dusky grouse (formerly blue grouse), sharp-tailed grouse, greater sage grouse, Gunnison sage grouse, the mountain sharp-tailed grouse, the plains sharp-tailed grouse and white tailed ptarmigan. All grouse have feathered legs.
- You can participate in tours to see the sharp-tailed grouse courtship dances in the Yampa Valley, and the greater sage grouse in Walden. For information, see
-Some traditional dances of the North American Plains Indians are believed to have been inspired by the courtship dances of the prairie chicken.
-The Conservation Reserve Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture may be one helpful tool for prairie-chicken conservation. Farmers enrolled in the program agree to plant appropriate vegetation on eligible fields, field edges and stream banks to create wildlife habitat and retain topsoil. Agricultural lands restored to grasslands under the CRP program could be valuable habitat for Greater Prairie-Chickens in some areas. To learn more about the CRP and/or how you can enroll see:
For more information about viewing wildlife in Colorado, go to:
Filed under: biodiversity, Colorado, Colorado Division of Wildlife, Colorado State Parks, Environment Tagged: | birdwatching, Colorado, Conservation Reserve Program, greater prairie chicken, sandhill dancers