The native prairie of Big Blue Ranch provides a home for the now rare Greater Prairie Chicken, which is still abundant here. These large birds in the grouse family can be heard “booming” in late April and early May. Big Blue Ranch has several hill top leks (booming sites) where you can observe their stomping and strutting.
If you’re interested in viewing Greater Prairie Chickens we offer a special outing. We will pick you up at the lodge and drop you off at blinds that were set up with the help of Dr. Paul Jonsgaard from the University of Nebraska. These blinds will offer you exceptional views of the Prairie Chickens in their native habitat.
Every season offers special birds to watch. This central flyway is used by many migratory birds. Ducks, geese, trumpeter swans and pelicans stop at the lake in both spring and fall. Some nest near the lake and some may stay in the vicinity year round, weather permitting. You might catch sight of a solitary great blue heron wading in the shallows.
Imagine driving along on a tree lined private lane that winds through hilltop pastures, past woodlands, through hedge rows, and eventually leads you to a cedar log lodge overlooking a 20 acre lake. Along the way, you may see deer grazing or a wild turkey strolling through the prairie.
Hiking on the trail around the lake, you can observe red-winged black birds, meadowlarks, cow birds, grasshopper sparrows, lark buntings, grackles, bluebirds, orioles, kingfishers and turtle doves. Many birds of prey can also be observed hunting or resting on a fence post, including red tailed hawks, prairie falcons and kestrals.
Birds of all kinds abound in the woods which offer habitat to flickers, several varieties of woodpeckers, nuthatches, crows, catbirds and brown thrashers. In the evening, listen for the great horned owls hooting. You can sometimes discover a Merriam’s cross turkey nesting in tall grass or see them roosting high in the trees.
In the winter, you may spot the occasional eagle soaring near the lake in search of food. Nebraska ringneck pheasants are truly beautiful in the winter cover as their distinctive plummage bursting with their iridescent colors stands out against the bright white snow covering our Nebraska ranchland and pastures.
This secluded getaway lets you observe many other types of birds and plentiful wildlife by day while enjoying breathtaking views of the rolling countryside, watching the trees reflected in the water and observing the sunset sparkling in the lake. Bring your binoculars and enjoy birdwatching here on Big Blue Ranch.
Greater Prairie Chicken Viewing: $50 per person with a minimum of 2 people. (plus lodging)
Offered April 1 – May 13