inflates its throat sacks to prepare for booming.
Greater prairie chicken inflates its throat sacks to prepare for booming. © Dominique Braud

Places We Protect | The Nature Conservancy


Kettledrummer Prairie

This unique prairie remnant gets its name from a nickname given to the greater prairie chicken.


This unique prairie remnant gets its name from a nickname given to the greater prairie chicken by early European settlers. These settlers heard the sound of the male prairie chickens on spring mornings and likened the low, resonant “booming” sound of the male chickens to the sound of drumming on a large kettle.

Western Minnesota, Wilkin County

Plan Your Visit
For more information on visiting this and other Minnesota preserves, check out our Preserve Visitation Guidelines.

To travel to Kettledrummer Prairie Preserve, drive west of Foxhome on State Highway 210 to the intersection with County Road 19. Turn north and proceed five miles north, and then turn east on a gravel road. Take this road for one mile, where Conservancy signs will mark the prairie along the south side of the road. You can park on the road on the northwest corner of the preserve. Nearest facilities are located in Foxhome, Rothsay and Fergus Falls.

200 acres

The preserve almost is flat to the eye, but subtle changes in topography and hydrology lead to varied plant communities. The big bluestem gives way to bluejoint and prairie cordgrass along the shallow watercourse flowing westward. Where the watercourse enters and exits the property, small cattail marshes are present. In the southwest portion of the preserve, indian grass is dominant. Scattered in various areas are some of Minnesota’s rarer plants, such as the northern gentian, small white lady slipper and alkali nut grass.

Western meadowlarks, bobolinks, common yellowthroat, Le Conte’s sparrow, savannah sparrow, sedge wren, greater prairie chicken, upland sandpiper and marbled godwits are just some of the many grassland birds that utilize Kettledrummer Prairie.

Why the Conservancy Selected This Site
Kettledrummer Prairie was acquired by The Nature Conservancy in 1973, in part because it was home to some of the southernmost greater prairie chickens in the state. Since that time, greater prairie chickens have been reintroduced to the Minnesota River Valley near Lac Qui Parle. Biologists recognize the importance of linking this newly-reintroduced population with the existing grouse found in the Agassiz Beach Ridges further to the north. Kettledrummer Prairie is one of the more southern prairie remnants along the edge of ancient Lake Agassiz that consistently harbors nesting greater prairie chickens. It is an important link between these populations.

What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing
Conservancy fire crews periodically burn portions of this preserve. Trained fire leaders pick ideal weather conditions and the appropriate time of year to conduct the burns. The controlled fires help to set back the invasion of woody species. On the prairie, trees harbor predators that prey on grassland birds and their nests. Conservancy stewards keep the prairie free of large areas of trees in order to increase the use of the site by important grassland birds, such as the greater prairie chicken for which this site was named.