My Turn – Chicken love breaks silence

Who, in their right mind, would rise in the dark of pre-dawn, venture out to a location smack dab in the middle of nowhere, and then wait for the arrival of both the sun and some love-sick dancing birds?

Well, me for one.

And I'm not alone. A hundred people sign up and pay good money for the privilege of doing exactly that each spring at the High Plains Prairie Chicken Festival in Milnesand. (It's on the calendar for April 19-21 this year.)

If you are interested in an experience like no other, registration is open right now. At last count there were still a couple dozen open spots, but they won't last long.

In the last 12 years, the festival has sold out long before the first cackles of springtime chicken love broke the silence of the prairie dawn.

Besides a chance to witness one of nature's most reliable and entertaining mating routines, festival-goers can sign up for educational mini-tours on topics ranging from native plants to prairie dogs to playa lakes, and enjoy some fine south Roosevelt County hospitality.

You'd be amazed at what's right here in your own backyard.

Ready for some legally-sanctioned voyeurism? Call Tish McDaniel at 575-762-6997, send an email to chickenfestival@yahoo.com, or visit nature.org/newmexico and scroll down.

Betty Williamson can verify that no prairie chickens are harmed (or worse yet, consumed) during the High Plains Prairie Chicken Festival. You may reach her at pepnm@hotmail.com.

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