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Slideshow: Sounds of the prairie

Prairie chickens were once abundant in Minnesota prior to the 1940s, but when the grasslands of the state disap-peared, so did the birds. In 1999, the Minnesota DNR re-introduced prairie chickens into the Upper Minnesota River Valley of the state, but their numbers have been declining in the project area.

It's all about listening, and lots of practice has allowed Dave Trauba to discern the sounds of prairie chickens from the many other bird songs of the spring mating season. The research requires that he rise early on work days that will be long, but Trauba said he has never regretted getting up. The pleasure of hearing and seeing the spring prairie come to life makes it all worthwhile. (Photos and audio by Tom Cherveny. Editing by Garret Felder.)