New Sage Grouse Exhibit Opens at the High Desert Museum

High Desert Museum exhibit on sage grouse courtesy of Steve Chindgren

October 13, 2015

Sage Grouse: Icon of the Sagebrush Sea features the natural history, cultural significance, and conservation efforts centered around America’s largest grouse

Discover the iconic denizen of the sagebrush sea, North America’s largest grouse, at the High Desert Museum’s new exhibit in Bend, Oregon. Sage Grouse: Icon of the Sagebrush Sea is produced in partnership with The Nature Conservancy and sponsored in part by the Sage Grouse Initiative. This exhibit explores the birds’ role in the sagebrush ecosystem, as well as its important cultural value to Native Americans, hunters, and birdwatchers. Check out the video below for a teaser of the amazing footage captured in this new exhibit!

Greater sage-grouse populations have disappeared from parts of their historic range due to habitat loss and degradation. Although sage grouse once numbered in the millions, fewer than 400,000 birds now live in the American West. The High Desert Museum’s exhibition explores the birds’ fascinating natural history, as well as the unprecedented collaborative efforts to protect sage grouse and their habitat.

The sagebrush sea features extraordinary vistas across the West. Photo: Steve Chindgren

The sagebrush sea features extraordinary vistas across the West. Photo: Steve Chindgren

The exhibit opens on the heels of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s recent decision not to list the greater sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act. While highlighting the success of voluntary, cooperative conservation projects like those led by the Sage Grouse Initiative, the exhibit will also offer specific ways the public can directly support sage grouse conservation.

This Friday, Oct. 16, the public is invited to attend an opening reception for this unique exhibit from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. The reception features award-winning book author and photographer Noppadol Paothong, who wrote Save the Last Dance: A Story of North American Grassland Grouse.

Pronghorn also depend on the high desert's sagebrush steppe ecosystem. Photo Steve Chindgren

Elk also depend on the high desert’s sagebrush steppe ecosystem. Photo Steve Chindgren

The museum will host several special programs on the exhibit over the next few months, including tribal legends and dances related to sage grouse, Lewis and Clark’s journal entries on North American grouse species, and the role of sagebrush steppe plants in sage grouse survival. This exhibit is made possible by partnership and support from The Nature Conservancy, Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, The Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, Teton Waters Ranch, and the Sage Grouse Initiative.

Click here for details on the exhibit and its special sage grouse programs.


The Sage Grouse Initiative is a partnership-based, science-driven effort that uses voluntary incentives to proactively conserve America’s western rangelands, wildlife, and rural way of life. This initiative is part of Working Lands For Wildlife, which is led by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.