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THE SAGEBRUSH SEA


Visit PBS.org/nature to watch the film, and explore below to learn more about North America's most contested landscape.

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THE SAGEBRUSH SEA


Visit PBS.org/nature to watch the film, and explore below to learn more about North America's most contested landscape.

“The Place in Between,” “The Big Empty,” “flyover country” — it goes by bleak names, but this iconic western landscape is far more than it seems. An ocean of sage fills high basins and sweeping valleys, spanning 250,000 square miles of the United States and Canada. It’s a cold desert where relentless wind, sparse rainfall, and extreme temperatures prohibit the growth of trees. What’s left is an expanse of scattered sagebrush — a rugged and aromatic shrub toxic to most animals. Yet sagebrush is the backbone of an ecosystem. Grasses and wildflowers thrive in its shade, supporting abundant insects, reptiles, mammals and birds, large and small.

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THE FILM


Premiered May 20th on PBS | Nature.
Watch Now >

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THE FILM


Premiered May 20th on PBS | Nature.
Watch Now >

Produced over three years by a team of biologists and filmmakers from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, The Sagebrush Sea is a one-hour documentary that looks at life in the sage through the eyes of the Greater Sage-Grouse, and explores our impact on the landscape. As the seasons change, we encounter the surprising diversity of life that relies on the sage — songbirds, mule deer, pronghorn, and the powerful Golden Eagle.

But in the shadow of energy development, these lucrative basins are contested territory. Here, sage-grouse are sensitive barometers for environmental change, and their populations have declined by at least 90% since European settlement. The sagebrush landscape is changing, and some timeless elements of its sense of place — the cascading songs of sage thrashers, the otherworldly booming of strutting grouse, the widely-spaced tracks of a Pronghorn’s sprint — are at risk of fading away.

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CONNECT


 

 

To learn more about the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and stay connected with the breadth of our work and resources, explore and follow the Cornell Lab facebook page.

If you're interested in keeping up to date with The Sagebrush Sea, check out the film's facebook page. Here you'll find exciting content leading up to the film's release, additional behind-the-scenes content afterwards, and more detailed information throughout. (For more information about issues surrounding Sage-Grouse, head over to our Living Bird story).

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