Pawhuska & the Tallgrass Prairie

June 5, 2017

As I was driving towards Bartlesville in northeast Oklahoma I saw signs for a nature preserve in the area and after checking in to the hotel I’d be staying at I backtracked to check it out.

The town of Pawhuska is about 30 miles west of Bartlesville.

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And north of Pawhuska I found the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, a 39,000 acre facility owned and operated by The Nature Conservancy.  This is the largest tract of tallgrass prairie remaining in the world and among other things is home to herds of bison, approximately 2,200 head.

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I drove around for a while but never saw any bison up close.  At one point I could see some way off in the distance but I didn’t know how to get there and was afraid I’d get lost and never get out.

In researching this post I also learned that this Preserve is also a home to the increasingly rare Greater Prairie Chicken.

Greater_Prairie-Chicken Audubon

(Photo credit: audubon.org)

These beautiful animals, a member of the grouse family, have an usual mating routine.  The males have a large, orange air sac in their neck which they can inflate during courtship and which can emit a loud sound (these birds are nicknamed “boomers”).  I found some videos on YouTube and watching their behavior, and the way they stamp their feet, is quite interesting.

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(Photo credit: birdeden.com)

I didn’t see any of these during my driving tour either.