Metta-Care: Attwater’s prairie chicken
“Eagle Lake, Texas—As the sun rises over the tallgrass prairie, one of the world’s last wild Attwater’s prairie chickens performs an unusual mating dance. The mottled brown grouse (Tympanuchus cupido attwateri), the size of a football, puffs out his neck and emits a low “woo woo” sound not unlike the sound made when blowing into a soft drink bottle. His neck and tail feathers stand erect, and he rapidly stamps his feet, turning 180 degrees. As a few females approach, he explodes in a dancing frenzy. Males are eager to impress: typically only one mates with all the females in his area.
The prairie chicken’s elaborate mating ritual, called booming, is one of nature’s fascinating little spectacles and even the inspiration for some Native American pow wow dances. But this particular species, the Attwater’s, which hunkers down in the tallgrass prairies of the Gulf coastal region, is critically endangered. Fewer than 45 free-range birds are left in the country.”
Smithsonian magazine, April 2008