The grasslands of central Nebraska are home to prairie chickens and sharp-tailed grouse, two uncommon non-migratory birds. Every spring, male prairie chickens perform an outstanding courtship display characterized by stomping feet, towering leaps and resonant booming noises from inflated yellow-orange air sacs along the sides of their necks.
In their attempt to attract females, the males bear a remarkable resemblance to wind-up toys in a field. The courtship behavior, performed on a "lek", starts in early March and can continue well into May. The dancing starts just before first light and continues for two to three hours. Some "booming" also occurs at sunset.
A viewing blind is available at Halsey National Forest and at Burchard Lake (lek numbers have declined at this location). The Chicken Dance Trail Website has more information. http://www.chickendancetrail.com/
In south central Nebraska, one reliable site for prairie chicken viewing is north and west of Grand Island on private property known as the Taylor Ranch. Viewing is from your vehicle or the side of the road (please pull as far off the side as possible).
To reach Taylor Ranch, take Interstate-80 exit No. 311, drive north on the Highway 281 for 9 1/2 miles then go left (west) on Highway 2 for almost four miles then right (north) on 60th Road until you reach a stop sign (about 2 1/2 miles). Then turn left (west) on One R Road and go one mile. Stop there, pull over to the right side and watch the hills directly north.