Category Archives: Nature

Birds And Butterflies

Birds and butterflies photographed from March through mid September 2015, in Oklahoma and presented in chronological order.

To view images larger and sharper, please click on one to bring up light-box viewer.

Male Northern Cardinal, Selman Ranch, Harper County
Male Northern Cardinal, Selman Ranch, Harper County
Male Red-bellied Woodpecker, Selman Ranch
Male Red-bellied Woodpecker, Selman Ranch
Osprey, Ft.Supply Lake
Osprey, Ft.Supply Lake
White-faced Ibis, Ft. Supply Lake
White-faced Ibis, Ft. Supply Lake
Male Lesser Prairie Chicken Courtship Display, Selman Ranch
Male Lesser Prairie Chicken Courtship Display, Selman Ranch
Common Tern, Ft. Supply Lake
Common Tern, Ft. Supply Lake
Common Nighthawk, Harper County
Common Nighthawk, Harper County
Yellow-headed Blackbird, Ft. Supply Lake
Male Yellow-headed Blackbird, Ft. Supply Lake
Male Northern Bob-white Quail, Cooper Wildlife Management Area
Male Northern Bob-white Quail, Cooper Wildlife Management Area
Black Swallowtail Butterfly on Wavy-leaf Thistle, Cooper Wildlife Management Area
Black Swallowtail Butterfly on Wavy-leaf Thistle, Cooper Wildlife Management Area
Fledgeling Northern Cardinal, Ft. Supply Lake
Fledgeling Northern Cardinal, Ft. Supply Lake
Killdeer, Ft.Supply Lake
Killdeer, Ft.Supply Lake
American Kestrel Chasing Red-tailed Hawk, Cooper Wildlife Management Area
American Kestrel Chasing Red-tailed Hawk, Cooper Wildlife Management Area
Dark Morph Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Boiling Springs State Park
Dark Morph Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Boiling Springs State Park
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Boiling Springs State Park
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Boiling Springs State Park
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Boiling Springs State Park
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Boiling Springs State Park
Dark Morph Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and Two Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, Boiling Springs Stare Park
Dark Morph Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and Two Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, Boiling Springs State Park
Two Dark Morph Eastern Tiger Swallowtails and Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Boiling Springs State Park
Two Dark Morph Eastern Tiger Swallowtails and Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Boiling Springs State Park
Monarch Butterfly on Rocky Mountain Bee Plant, Selman Ranch
Monarch Butterfly on Rocky Mountain Bee Plant, Selman Ranch

Western Oklahoma Wildflowers

The wildflowers of western Oklahoma have been waiting four years for the drought to break and it happened this spring.  They burst forth with a tremendous display of color and beauty. These photos were made between May 21st and June 27th, 2015 and are presented in chronological order.

Click on an image and then on left or right to see them larger and sharper. 

Gaillardia/Indian Blanket, State Wildflower of Oklahoma
Gaillardia/Indian Blanket, State Wildflower of Oklahoma
Purple Poppy Mallow/Wine Cup. Cooper Wildlife Management Area
Purple Poppy Mallow/Wine Cup, Cooper Wildlife Management Area
Pale Purple Coneflower, Harper County, Oklahoma
Pale Purple Coneflower, Harper County, Oklahoma
Pale Purple Coneflower, Harper County, Oklahoma
Pale Purple Coneflower, Harper County, Oklahoma
Upright Prairie Coneflower, Harper County, Oklahoma
Upright Prairie Coneflower, Harper County, Oklahoma
Gaillardia/Indian Blanket And Honeybee, Harper County, Oklahoma
Gaillardia/Indian Blanket And Honeybee, Harper County, Oklahoma
Spiderwort, Fort Supply Wildlife Management Area
Spiderwort, Fort Supply Wildlife Management Area
Gaillardia/Indian Blanket, Near Gage, Oklahoma
Gaillardia/Indian Blanket, Near Gage, Oklahoma
Indian Paintbrush, Wichita Mountains National Wildlife  Refuge
Indian Paintbrush, Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge
Spectacle Pod, Cooper Wildlife Management Area
Spectacle Pod, Cooper Wildlife Management Area
Goat's Rue, Cooper Wildlife Management Area
Goat’s Rue, Cooper Wildlife Management Area
Gaillardia/Indian Blanket, Cooper WMA
Gaillardia/Indian Blanket, Cooper WMA
Pale Purple Coneflower, Harper County, Oklahoma
Pale Purple Coneflower, Harper County, Oklahoma
Upright Prairie Coneflower, Cooper WMA
Upright Prairie Coneflower, Cooper WMA
Lemon Monarda, Cooper WMA
Lemon Monarda, Cooper WMA
Tree Cholla, Cooper WMA   Note: This cactus does not commonly occur this far east and this one may have been transplanted before this area was acquired by the state.
Tree Cholla, Cooper WMA
Note: This cactus does not ordinarially occur this far east and this one may have been transplanted before this area was acquired by the state.
Prairie Lilly, Gloss Mountains State Park
Prairie Lilly, Gloss Mountains State Park
Purple Prairie Clover, Gloss Mountains State Park
Purple Prairie Clover, Gloss Mountains State Park
Prairie Coneflower/Mexican Hat
Prairie Coneflower/Mexican Hat, Cooper WMA

Fall Color In Oklahoma And Arkansas

These photos were made from October 29th through November 4th, 2014 and are presented in chronological order.

To see images larger and sharper, please click anywhere in a photo and scroll through them by clicking on sides. 

Smooth Sumac, Fort Supply Lake, Oklahoma
Smooth Sumac, Fort Supply Lake, Oklahoma

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Red Maples, Talimena National Scenic Byway
Red Maples, Talimena National Scenic Byway, Oklahoma
Red Maples, Ouachita National Forest, Oklahoma
Red Maples, Ouachita National Forest, Oklahoma
Devil's Den State Park, Arkansas
Devil’s Den State Park, Arkansas
Sassafras Leaves, Devil's Den State Park, Arkansas
Sassafras Leaves, Devil’s Den State Park, Arkansas
Ozark National Forest near Chester, Arkansas
Ozark National Forest near Chester, Arkansas
Sunrise Near Wister, Oklahoma
Sunrise Near Wister, Oklahoma
Shortly After Sunrise Ouachita National Forest, Oklahoma
Shortly After Sunrise Ouachita National Forest, Oklahoma
Talimena National Scenic Byway, Oklahoma State Highway 1
Talimena National Scenic Byway, Oklahoma State Highway 1
Maple-leaved Oaks, Mount Magazine State Park, Arkansas
Maple-leaved Oaks, Mount Magazine State Park, Arkansas
Red Maples, Mount Magazine State Park, Arkansas
Sugar Maples, Mount Magazine State Park, Arkansas
Sassafras Leaf, Mount Magazine State Park, Arkansas
Sassafras Leaf, Mount Magazine State Park, Arkansas
Caddo Maples, Red Rock Canyon State Park, Oklahoma
Caddo Maples, Red Rock Canyon State Park, Oklahoma
Caddo Maples, Red Rock Canyon State Park, Oklahoma
Caddo Maples, Red Rock Canyon State Park, Oklahoma
Caddo Maples, Red Rock Canyon State Park, Oklahoma
Caddo Maples, Red Rock Canyon State Park, Oklahoma

Blue Sky and Blue Sage

Photos made between June 21 and September 13, 2014 on Cooper Wildlife Management Area. The Hal and Fern Cooper Wildlife Management Area covers 16,080 acres in Woodward and Harper Counties. It is comprised primarily of upland mixed-grass and sagebrush prairie with 4,500 acres of river-bottom. The area is managed by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and an Oklahoma hunting license, fishing license or wildlife conservation passport is required for entry.

To see images larger and sharper, please click anywhere in a photo and use arrows to scroll through them. 

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Blue Sky
Gray Hairstreak Butterfly on Texas Frogfruit
Gray Hairstreak Butterfly on Texas Frogfruit
Spotted Ground Squirrrel
Spotted Ground Squirrel
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Slender Dayflower
Female Northern Bobwhite Quail
Female Northern Bobwhite Quail
Male Northern Bobwhite Quail
Male Northern Bobwhite Quail
Spectacle Pod
Spectacle Pod
Cassius Blue Butterfly
Cassius Blue Butterfly on Texas Frogfruit
Sensitive Briar
Sensitive Briar
Silvery Nightshade
Silvery Nightshade
Prickly Poppy
Prickly Poppy
Prickly Poppy
Prickly Poppy
Bush Morning Glory
Bush Morning Glory

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Blue Sage

 

Wild Wings

Long distance fliers from the north spend much of the winter at Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge and Washita NWR in western Oklahoma.
Snow geese prepare to land on a wheat field in Washita NWR on 12-18-2013.
Snow geese prepare to land on a wheat field in Washita NWR on 12-18-2013.
These are all snow geese, but the one on the right is a  juvenile, blue morph. Photo made at Washita NWR on 1-2-2014.
These are all snow geese, but the one on the right is a juvenile, blue morph. Photo made at Washita NWR on 1-2-2014.
The two birds at the top are adult, blue morph snow geese.
The two birds at the top are adult, blue morph snow geese. Until recently the blue morph variant of snow goose was considered to be a separate species known as blue goose.

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A large flock of snow geese shown rising from a wheat field.
A large flock of snow geese shown rising from a wheat field.

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Thousands of snow geese take wing after feeding on a wheat field at Washita NWR. It is not uncommon for 50 or 60 thousand of them to be on the refuge at one time.
Thousands of snow geese take wing after feeding on a wheat field at Washita NWR. It is not uncommon for 50 or 60 thousand of them to be on the refuge at one time.
This and the remainder of the images in this post were made at Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge. This photo of snow geese, made just after sunrise on 1-13-2014 shows motion blur in the wing-tips due to the relatively slow shutter speed of 1/250 sec.
This and the remainder of the images in this post were made at Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge. This photo of snow geese, made just after sunrise on 1-13-2014, shows motion blur in the wing-tips due to the relatively slow shutter speed of 1/250 sec.
The warm color in this and the preceding and following images is a result of early morning light.
The warm color in this and the preceding and following images is a result of early morning light.
These are white-fronted geese. They are named for a small white area on the front of the head.
These are greater white-fronted geese. They are named for a small white area on the front of the head.
This photo shows Canada geese, sometimes incorrectly called Canadian geese, in the foreground and snow geese in the background.
This photo shows Canada geese, sometimes incorrectly called Canadian geese, in the foreground and snow geese in the background.
These ducks are male common mergansers. The females have brown heads.
These ducks are male common mergansers. The females have brown heads.
Sandhill cranes are very large birds, much larger than geese. During migration they can fly over 8,000 feet high  with their 6.5 foot wing span.
Sandhill cranes are very large birds, much larger than geese. During migration they can fly over 8,000 feet high with their 6.5 foot wing span.
Sandhill cranes fly in front of the moon at 8:42 in the morning of !-20-2014. This image is not photoshopped by combining two images. The large size of the moon is a result of using a long telephoto lens.
Sandhill cranes fly in front of the moon at 8:42 in the morning of 1-20-2014. This image is not photoshopped by combining two images. The large size of the moon is a result of using a long telephoto lens.
These are white-fronted geese, with the exception of the second from the top, which is a Canada goose.
These are greater white-fronted geese, with the exception of the second from the top, which is a Canada goose.

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Autumn In Western Oklahoma

Fall scenes from Boiling Springs State Park, Fort Supply Lake area, Red Rock Canyon State Park, and Roman Nose State Park. These images were made from October 30 through November 11, 2013 and are presented in chronological order.

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Smooth sumac near Ft. Supply Lake
Smooth sumac near Ft. Supply Lake
This and the following four photos are from Boiling Springs State Park.
This and the following three photos are from Boiling Springs State Park.

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North Canadian River
North Canadian River

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This and the following five photos were made in Red Rock Canyon State Park. Part of the red sandstone canyon walls can be seen in the background of several of these photos.
This and the following five photos were made in Red Rock Canyon State Park. Part of the red sandstone canyon walls can be seen in the background of several of these photos.

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The caddo maple is native to this area and is the iconic tree of the park.
The caddo maple is native to this area and is the iconic tree of the park.
The caddo maple is spectacular in the autumn and displays various hues of yellow, orange and red.
The caddo maple is spectacular in the autumn and displays various hues of yellow, orange and red.

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Osage-orange leaves photographed in Boiling Springs State Park.
Osage-orange leaves photographed in Boiling Springs State Park.
Cottonwood and oak trees photographed near Ft. Supply Lake.
Cottonwood and oak trees photographed near Ft. Supply Lake.
The clear spring-fed waters of Bitter Creek flow through Roman Nose State Park.
The clear, spring-fed waters of Bitter Creek flow through Roman Nose State Park.
Oak leaves swirl though a stream in Boiling Springs State Park.
Oak leaves swirl though a stream in Boiling Springs State Park.

A Boiling Springs Summer

A selection of images from Boiling Springs State Park made during the summer of 2013, presented in chronological order.

Fox Squirrel
Fox Squirrel
Shaul Lake
Shaul Lake
Black-tailed Jack Rabbit
Black-tailed Jack Rabbit

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White-tailed Fawns
White-tailed Fawns
White-tailed Doe And Fawn
White-tailed Doe And Fawn
Eastern Cottontail Rabbit
Eastern Cottontail Rabbit
Widow Dragonfly
Widow Skimmer Dragonfly
White-tailed Doe And Fawn
White-tailed Doe And Fawn

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White-tailed Buck With Antlers In Velvet
White-tailed Buck With Antlers In Velvet
Mother Raccoon
Mother Raccoon
Young Raccoon
Young Raccoon
White-tailed Doe And Fawn
White-tailed Doe And Fawn
White-tailed Buck In Velvet
White-tailed Buck In Velvet
Black-tailed Jack Rabbit
Black-tailed Jack Rabbit
White-tailed Fawn
White-tailed Fawn
These two white-tailed fawns are not siblings.
These two white-tailed fawns are not siblings. It is somewhat unusual to see fawns of such different sizes.

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Black-tailed Jack Rabbit
Black-tailed Jack Rabbit
White-tailed Fawn
White-tailed Fawn
 All images on this site are copyright © Larry D. Brown and may not be used in any manner without permission.

On The High Plains Of Cimarron County

Most, if not all of Cimarron County, Oklahoma is at 4000 feet or higher elevation and contains the highest point in the state at 4973 feet. The climate is semi-arid and averages only 17 inches of precipitation per year. The southern and eastern parts of the county are mostly flat short-grass prairie and farmland. However the northwestern portion is far from flat and contains some of the most interesting topography in Oklahoma, known as Black Mesa.

This is a typical scene in northwestern Cimarron County, a flat-topped mesa formed of black volcanic rock with a blooming cholla cactus in the foreground. This mesa could not be photographed in its entirety from this location, even with a wide-angle lens. This photo was created by digitally stitching three separate images into one.
This is a typical scene in northwestern Cimarron County, a flat-topped mesa formed of black volcanic rock with a blooming tree cholla cactus in the foreground. This mesa could not be photographed in its entirety from this location, even with a wide-angle lens. This photo was created by digitally stitching three separate images into one.

One of many unusual rock formations found in the area.

Some of the many unusual rock formations found in the area.

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This and the preceding images were made on June 12, 2012.
This and the preceding images were made on June 12, 2012.
The cholla is the predominant species of cactus in the area. This one is budding on June 6, 2013.
The tree cholla, which grows up to 6.5 feet tall, is the predominant species of cactus in the area. The buds shown above will open into beautiful purplish red flowers. This and the following photos were made on June 6-7, 2013.
This is a very rugged area and it would be easy to imagine it as the location of a western movie.
This is a very rugged area and it would be easy to imagine it as the location for a western movie.

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The pronghorn is often incorrectly called antelope. It is not a member of the antelope family and is in fact the only member of its family.
The pronghorn is often incorrectly called antelope. It is not a member of the antelope family and is in fact the only member of its family.
A pronghorn doe seen at sunrise on June 7, 2013. The doe has very short horns compared to the bucks more prominent ones. Horns are permanent and unlike antlers are not shed each year.
A pronghorn doe seen at sunrise on June 7, 2013. The doe has very short horns compared to the bucks more prominent ones. Horns are permanent and unlike antlers are not shed each year.
Pronghorns are supremely suited to life on the high plains. Their vision is so acute that it can detect movement four  miles away. Being the fastest animal in the western hemisphere, it can easily outrun any predator and has been clocked at speed up to 70    mph. Running 45 mph is not unusual and it can cruise easily at 30 mph for 15 miles.
Pronghorns are supremely suited to life on the high plains. Their vision is so acute that it can detect movement four miles away. Being the fastest animal in the western hemisphere, it can easily outrun any predator and has been clocked at speed up to 70 mph. Running 45 mph is not unusual and it can cruise easily at 30 mph for 15 miles.
Mule deer does captured at sunrise among yucca plants.
Mule deer does captured at sunrise among yucca plants.
Mule deer get their name from their ears, which are larger than those of the smaller white-tailed deer. They inhabit more open areas than the white-tail, which is seldom seen in areas as treeless as this.
Mule deer get their name from their ears, which are larger than those of the smaller white-tailed deer. They inhabit more open areas than the white-tail, which is seldom seen in areas as treeless as this.
Fog is an unusual sight in the Black Mesa as there is usually not sufficient humidity to produce it.
Fog is an unusual sight in the Black Mesa as there is usually not sufficient humidity to produce it.
The black-tailed jack rabbit is a another speedy resident of the high plains.
The black-tailed jack rabbit is a another speedy resident of the high plains.
Unlike the pronghorn, deer, and jack rabbit, the badger is a poor runner and depends on its strong claws to dig for its food and defend itself from any predators.
Unlike the pronghorn, deer, and jack rabbit, the badger is a poor runner and depends on its strong claws to dig for its food and defend itself from any predators.
It usually digs for its food which consists mainly of ground squirrels, gophers, rats and mice. Few animals will attack the badger because with its powerful legs and sharp claws and teeth, it is more than a match for a lone dog or coyote. However if given a chance, it prefers to back into its burrow.
It usually digs for its food which consists mainly of ground squirrels, gophers, rats and mice. Few animals will attack the badger because with its powerful legs and sharp claws and teeth, it is more than a match for a lone dog or coyote. However if given a chance, it prefers to back into its burrow to escape. They are amazing excavators and it is said they can out-dig a man with a shovel.
The bright yellow flowers of the plains prickly pear are easy to spot, especially as they often grow in large clumps.
The bright yellow flowers of the plains prickly pear are easy to spot, especially as they often grow in large clumps as shown below.

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To view additional images from this area, please enter "Black Mesa" in the search box above and scroll down.
To view additional images from this area, please enter “Black Mesa” in the search box above and scroll down.

In The Wichita Mountains Again

After many visits over a period of many years, I still find the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge an interesting and challenging place to photograph. The ever-changing weather and light conditions and the variety of wildlife and wildflowers means new opportunities and challenges for each visit.

The bison is the iconic animal of the refuge and is the primary reason this refuge was created.
The bison is the iconic animal of the refuge and is the primary reason this refuge was created.
By 1900, only two small herds totaling 550 wild bison remained in North America. In October, 1907 15 head of bison were transported by rail from the New York Zoological Park to the refuge.
By 1900, only two small herds totaling 550 wild bison remained in North America. In October, 1907 15 head of bison were transported by rail from the New York Zoological Park to the refuge.
The black-tailed prairie dog is another iconic animal of the the prairie and finds a welcome home on the refuge. It is generally not welcome on   ranch land as the many burrows in established prairie dog towns can destroy areas of pasture land and create hazards for livestock.
The black-tailed prairie dog is another iconic animal of the the prairie and finds a welcome home on the refuge. It is generally not welcome on ranch land as the many burrows in established prairie dog towns can destroy pasture land and create hazards for livestock. A young animal is shown in this photo.
The collared lizard, commonly called mountain boomer, likes the rocky, boulder strewn areas of the refuge.
The collared lizard, commonly called mountain boomer, likes the rocky, boulder strewn areas of the refuge.
These lizards are often seen sunning themselves on large boulders. The males are easily identified because they are more colorful than females.
These lizards are often seen sunning themselves on large boulders. The males are easily identified because they are more colorful than females.
Many species of wildflowers are found on the refuge. These are the pale purple coneflower and the thread-leaf thelesperma.
Many species of wildflowers are found on the refuge. These are the pale purple coneflower and the thread-leaf thelesperma.
This great egret is wading in a marshy area of Jed Johnson  Lake, one of several man-man made lakes on the refuge.
This great egret is wading in a marshy area of Jed Johnson Lake, one of several man-made lakes on the refuge.
Seven bison can be seen in the distance as thunderheads are building to the east of the refuge at 4:35 PM on May 31, 2013. This is the day the 2.6 mile wide tornado hit El Reno, Oklahoma, about 85 miles northeast of the refuge.
Seven bison can be seen in the distance as thunderheads are building to the east of the refuge at 4:35 PM on May 31, 2013. This is the day the 2.6 mile wide tornado hit El Reno, Oklahoma, about 85 miles northeast of the refuge.
At 5:49 a towering thunderhead is building.
At 5:49 a towering thunderhead is building.
This view is to the north 16 minutes later.
This view is to the north 16 minutes later.

The preceding images were made on May 31, 2013 and the following photos were made on July 1, 2013.

Sunrise on a hazy morning. The haze was probably smoke from the wildfires burning in states to the west.
Sunrise on a hazy morning. The haze was probably smoke from wildfires burning in states to the west.
Female Painted Bunting
Female Painted Bunting
Male Painted Bunting
Male Painted Bunting
The male painted bunting is perhaps the most colorful songbird in North America.
The male painted bunting is perhaps the most colorful songbird in North America.
The scarlet gilia, also known as standing cypress is one of the more showy wildflowers on the refuge.
The scarlet gilia, also known as standing cypress is one of the more showy wildflowers on the refuge.

Prairie Dancers

 

Male lesser prairie-chickens, members of the grouse family, perform a unique mating dance each spring. They gather in groups year after year on the same spots called leks, to attract hens by stomping their feet rapidly and inflating and deflating air sacs on the sides of their necks. This produces a sound called booming which can carry for a considerable distance on the open prairie and accounts for the alternate name, “booming ground” for the lek.

These images made on April 30, 2013, shortly after sunrise.
These images were made on April 30, 2013, shortly after sunrise.
The lesser prairie chicken is slightly smaller than the greater prairie chicken and has red air sacs instead of orange as on the greater.
The lesser prairie-chicken is slightly smaller than the greater prairie-chicken and has reddish air sacs instead of orange as on the greater.
The pinnate feathers are held erect when the air sacs are fully inflated.
The “horn” feathers are held erect and the air sacs are fully inflated.
Pairs of males often face each other with skirmishes often resulting.
Pairs of males often face each other with skirmishes sometimes resulting.
One of the opposing males will often jump up and descend on the other with claws extended.
One of the opposing males will often jump up and descend on the other with claws extended.
The lesser prairie chicken inhabits short-grass prairie areas in only five states.
The lesser prairie-chicken inhabits short-grass prairie areas of only five states: Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.
A clump of sage-brush is used to get a better view of other males and be more visible to any hens in the area.
A clump of sage-brush is used to get a better view of other males and be more visible to any hens in the area.
All of the males courtship displays were in vain this day as most if not all of the hens in the area are already on their nests incubating eggs.
All of the males’ courtship displays were in vain this day as most, if not all of the hens in the area are already on their nests incubating eggs.
Lesser prairie chicken populations have declined to precariously low numbers and they are now being considered for listing as threatened or endangered.
Lesser prairie-chicken populations have declined to precariously low numbers and they are now being considered for listing as threatened or endangered.
These photos were made on a lek near Glazier, in the Texas panhandle.
These photos were made on a lek near Glazier, in the Texas panhandle.
Many thanks go to Dick Wilberforce for making these images possible by providing access to this lek.
Many thanks go to Dick Wilberforce for making these images possible by providing access to this lek.

All images on this site are copyrighted © by Larry D. Brown and may not be used in any manner without permission.