"It's pretty exciting to know that this is one of the only prairie chicken nests here in
More than a dozen chicks hatched from the nest. Like all prairie chicks, the young birds immediately followed their mother out of the nest.
Kyle Hedges, the conservation agent who manages the Shelton Conservation Area and several others in the region, said the birds will stay on the run until they are able to fly.
"They require large expanses," he explained. "Thousands of acres to have a viable population."
Hedges stressed that he was cautiously optimistic about the new flock's chances for survival.
"The underlying factor still remains," he said. "This is one nest, one clutch."
A difficult life lies before the chicks. They'll have to learn to keep up with their mother running through tall grasses, many of them invasive species that are too thick to navigate. They'll have to stay away from snakes and coyotes and survive an unusually wet year.
"These heavy rains we're getting, that's bad news if you're this big and fuzzy," Hedges said, holding up his fingers to show the 4 inch size of the chicks. "As you're moving through the grasses you need open spaces to where they can move around, find bugs to pick."
Fewer than 500 of the species remain in the entire state of
"You hate to see a species disappear," Hedges said. "The world's probably not going to change much if there are no more prairie chickens left in