Prairie chickens moaning at dawn

The Missouri Department of Conservation and the Nature Conservancy together put on trips to see a stable population of prairie chickens lek during the Spring on land owned by the Conservancy near Eagleville, Missouri. I met up with the volunteer guide, Bill, and about six other chicken fans at 5am, a full hour before dawn. We hiked up a hill a short distance to a small wooden blind, which looked like a children’s clubhouse with all the windows on one side.  Read more

Preparing to meet the prairie chicken

The prairie was once one of the iconic ecosystems of North America. An undulating expanse of grasses, grazing bison and periodic cleansing fire stretching across hundreds of miles, it was called by “the inland sea” by James Fenimore Cooper. The prairie was also an obvious place to farm by removing a bouquet of native grasses and replacing them with rows of grasses dear to human stomachs—our domesticated grains. “Habitat loss” is too puny a term for what happened to the prairie. Only 4% of the original tallgrass prairie – the ecosystem most closely associated with the prairie chicken – remains.  Read more

AAAS 2008

Join our reporters and editors at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting , from February 14-18. They’ll be sending back diary reports to this page. The theme of this year’s massive conference is “Science and Technology from a Global Perspective” – so watch for notes on developments around the world, all coming to you from Boston.  Read more