The 2017 Lesser Prairie-chicken Festival opened on Wednesday in Woodward, Oklahoma, and will continue until Wednesday, April 26. Wildlife photographer Dick Wilberforce of Canadian was named the artist of the year for the event and the 2017 poster features his decades of work highlighting the bird.
The poster has images of booming chickens, hens and even a shot that is uncommon—two prairie-chicken chicks in a nest of eggs about to be hatched. Wilberforce has a long history with the festival and has led prairie-chicken tours every year. This season he won’t be able to because of the destructive fires of March that killed birds and destroyed their habitat in the areas of his designated leks.
Wilberforce and his wife Geri will be on hand for the banquet scheduled for Saturday evening, April 22, when Dick will sign posters. The keynote speaker is Sheri Williamson, who admits her obsession with hummingbirds, the “rainbow-hued warriors” that she feeds year-round. She also maintains a hummingbird garden, writes about them in her blog, and bands hundreds of them each year. She currently serves as director of the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory and is working on a revision of A Field Guide to Hummingbirds of North America in the Peterson Field Guide Series, originally published in 2002.
The week-long festival schedule includes greater prairie-chicken viewing, as well as the lesser prairie-chicken; fence marking for the birds’ protection; a visit to the Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge; photography workshops; stargazing; bat viewing; a prairie-dog town birding trek; a visit to the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge; and a Black Mesa Birding Trek.