The Woodward News

April 4, 2013

Lesser Prairie Chicken Festival coming up


Woodward News

Woodward, Okla. — The Oklahoma Audubon Council will hold its annual Lesser Prairie Chicken Festival April 10-17 in Woodward.

John Kennington, president of the Oklahoma Audubon Council, said, "This event is for anyone interested in birds and nature, particularly for bird watchers. We're offering a chance to view the lesser prairie chickens, either from up close from a blind or from the van."

In addition to a viewing the lesser prairie chicken on a private ranch, the event has several additional outings scheduled.

"We've got other bird watching field trips around Woodward and Harper County set up," Kennington said.  "We have extended trips to the Salt Plains refuge, Black Mesa, and even to the Wichita Mountains."

Kennington said they have bird watchers registered from all over, from Alaska to Massachusetts to Florida and even Canada.

"The Lesser Prairie Chicken is a rare species in serious decline with a very restricted range, essentially just Oklahoma, Kansas, and New Mexico, so its a bird a lot of people want to see. We have people from 15 different states and Canada registered," Kennington said.

The event will also offer a special package for photographers, including a photography workshop with Nappadol Paothong, a staff photographer for Missouri Conservationist, one of the largest state conservation magazines. Paothong's photography skills have been recognized with more than 60 regional and national awards.

In addition, the keynote speaker of the event will be Greg Miller,  attempted  world record breaker for the most bird sightings in North America in one year whose exploits inspired the feature film The Big Year and the book The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature and Fowl Obsession by Mark Obmascik.

"It's something just to actually see and experience the birds," Kennington said. "We take people out early in the morning to the blinds, the birds come into these areas called leks, puff themselves up, and fight one another to impress the females. Its just an incredible experience to hear them and see them up close, and experience the other wildlife out on the prairie. Its really just an incredible experience."

Regardless of wether you're a hardcore bird watcher or not, Kennington assures that pretty much anyone could enjoy and by thrilled by this wildlife spectacle.

For more information about the event and to see a detailed schedule of the event, people can visit lektreks.org. To register to attend, people can contact John Kennington at 918-809-6325 or by email at johnkennington@gmail.com.

Schedule

April 10

5 a.m. to 4 p.m. - Greater Prairie Chicken viewing at a private ranch, lunch and birding at the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve

April 11

6 a.m. to 4 p.m. - Photography workshop

3 p.m. - Registration desk opens, Northwest Inn

6 p.m.to 8 p.m. - Reception

April 12

5 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Lesser Prairie Chicken viewing, ranch brunch and fence marking

5 a.m. to 9 p.m. - Lesser Prairie Chicken photographer's package

7 a.m. to 4 p.m. - Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge

5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. - Dinner at Selman Living Lab

8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. - Stargazing at Selman Living Lab

8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. - Bat and Owl Prowl, Moth Back Lighting at Alabaster Caverns

April 13

5 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Lesser Prairie Chicken viewing, ranch brunch and fence marking

5 a.m. to 9 p.m. - Lesser Prairie Chicken photographer's package

7 a.m. to 4 p.m. - Harper/Woodward County birding trek

7:30 a.m. to noon - Prairie Dog Town birding trek

2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. - Workshops, Northwest Inn

5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. - Dinner and key note, Northwest Inn

April 14

5 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Lesser Prairie Chicken viewing, ranch brunch and fence marking

5 a.m. to 9 p.m. - Lesser Prairie Chicken photographer's package

7 a.m. to 4 p.m. - Harper/Woodward County birding trek

7:30 a.m. to noon - Prairie Dog Town birding trek

2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. - Workshops, Northwest Inn

6 p.m. to 8 p.m. - Shattuck Windmill Museum and dinner

April 15

6 a.m. to 5 p.m. - Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge Trek

7 a.m. - Depart for Black Mesa birding trek (3 days)

April 16

7 a.m. to 3 p.m. - Hackberry Flat Trek