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The Treasure of a Feather

For many visitors, the Don Kerr Birds of Prey Center is one of the highlights of a day spent at the Museum. Raptors are not just an iconic part of the High Desert — they also have intangible value for cultures worldwide and throughout human history. The human connection to raptors is innate and universal. […]

Artist Ben Pease

A Conversation with Artist Ben Pease

Ben Pease, winner of the Curator’s Choice Award at the High Desert Museum’s 2018 Art in the West exhibition for his work “Keeper of the People,” explores the history and the future of Native American heritage through mixed-media art. Born on the Crow Indian Reservation in 1989, Pease grew up in southeastern Montana with roots […]

Artist Hadley Rampton demonstrates landscape painting at the 2018 Art in the West exhibition opening at the High Desert Museum.

A Conversation with Artist Hadley Rampton

Hadley Rampton, winner of the Jury’s Choice Award at the High Desert Museum’s 2018 Art in the West exhibition for her work “Vista,” blends her love of the outdoors with her passion for art through plein air painting. Born in Salt Lake City in 1975, Rampton grew up exploring the Utah wilderness and the Teton/Yellowstone […]

Low-intesity flames traveled across the forest floor during a carefully planned prescribed fire at the Museum this past spring.

Fire: A Prescription for the Forest

This spring, one cloudy May day, we watched flames creep across the floor of part of the Museum’s ponderosa pine forest. For a long time, we had been carefully planning for this prescribed burn of a portion of our acreage. The fire, though low intensity, still left a somewhat dramatic sight for our visitors the […]

The Bee-All and End-All

“Every third bite of food you take, you can thank a bee or other pollinator for… ” E.O. Wilson, Forgotten Pollinators. I was once a field biologist, lucky enough to call catching and identifying butterflies part of my job. On one particularly hot afternoon, though, my pursuit of a rare butterfly was not going as […]

Give a Bird a Home

Nest boxes are a fun and simple way to help backyard birds this spring. Last spring, I watched in wonder from the window as a pair of mountain chickadees built a nest and raised their young in the front yard. I would perch, tea in one hand, binoculars in the other, excitedly reporting my sightings […]

Spring Activities for Kids

As the sun’s rays shine between the trees, glinting off the frost covering the bare aspen branches outside my window, I can feel the promise of spring, even as winter weather lingers. I know that soon buds on aspen branches will burst with fresh spring leaves and winter will give way to a new season! […]

To Blake Little, Gay Rodeo is Personal

From the moment he attended his first gay rodeo in 1988, photographer Blake Little was hooked. “I was completely drawn to it and I had to be a part of it,” he stated. “I wanted to be a cowboy.” Pursuing the thrill of his own cowboy dreams through the International Gay Rodeo Association (IGRA), Little […]

Hope

Storytelling is a big part of what we do at the Museum. Narratives can be a powerful tool for teaching and learning, and for fulfilling our mission of connecting audiences to the High Desert region. All of the objects, exhibits, and staff at the museum have stories to tell, and so do each of our […]

Treading Lightly on Nature

Responsible recreation benefits us all. Like many people who are drawn to live in the West, I’m happiest when I’m out in nature. Some of the best, most inspiring moments of my life have happened while running, hiking or horseback riding on trails. Here in Central Oregon, we are blessed with world-class recreation opportunities just […]

Turn Off the Lights for a Brighter Future

The Museum’s staff is thrilled to have recently become a partner of Lights Out Bend, a volunteer-operated education and advocacy program that seeks to highlight the issue of light pollution and inspire the community to reduce light pollution. In becoming partners, we join fellow local organizations keen to make a difference. This includes the Deschutes […]

Art in the West

Telling Native American Stories Through Art

Ben Pease has been awarded the Jury’s Choice Award at the High Desert Museum’s Art in the West exhibition for his 2017 work “Honor and Respect Come to Thee”. It was among 226 pieces submitted in response to a nationwide call to artists for the Museum’s annual juried art exhibition and silent auction. Ben is […]

6 Ways to Keep Pets Safe in Summer

Here at the High Desert Museum, we’re taking steps to keep the wildlife in our care healthy and safe during this summer’s high temperatures, like providing fruit pops to the porcupines and spritzing the raptors with water. The otters? They’re content swimming and sunbathing. Caring for them in this extreme heat made us think of […]

Growing up otter

Growing Up Otter

When the otter pup arrived at the Museum, he was a 6-week-old wiggly bundle of energy that tripped over his own feet when he followed after me. When he wasn’t running around and playing with his stash of toys, he was either napping or eating. With neither of us being experienced at bottle feeding, mealtime […]

Golden eagle

Part 3: Bringing Phillip Home

A few years ago, High Desert Museum staff learned from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that the Blue Mountain Wildlife Center in Pendleton, Oregon, had several non-releasable eagles. One of the birds was a sub-adult male golden eagle that appeared to have been struck by a car. It also had serious levels of lead […]

Golden eagle

Part 2: Searching for the Perfect Golden Eagles

Finding the right raptors for the Donald M. Kerr Birds of Prey Center is one of the most challenging aspects of managing the High Desert Museum’s wildlife education program. One priority for the limited space at the Museum is conserving species of special concern, species that depend on public support for their survival. In many […]

Golden eagle

Part 1:  The Story of the Golden Eagle

Since its inception, a cornerstone of the High Desert Museum has been maintaining the Donald M. Kerr Birds of Prey Center and its collection of rehabilitated birds. It is a critical part of educating people about the support necessary for several species’ survival. This is the story of the golden eagle on exhibit. His name […]

A Christmas card and a Camera: Objects with Stories to Tell

One of the most meaningful parts of working on World War II: The High Desert Home Front has been the opportunity to get to know veterans and their families. Our exhibit includes the stories, uniforms and personal belongings of four people who served during the war. One of these soldiers is Hubert Croteau, a B-25 […]

Lampreys: Not the Villain Portrayed in the Movies

Few people know about lampreys; fewer still have ever seen one. When they do see one for the first time the initial response is often is fear or revulsion. Most often this is because of the Pacific lamprey’s appearance and their parasitic feeding behavior once they’ve migrated to the ocean. Evolutionary biologists make the argument […]

The Historical Significance of the Lamprey

The same characteristics that enable lamprey to persist for a year without food, also makes them valuable to the ecosystem and a precious and highly valued resource to Native American tribes. Historically, lamprey was a rich source of protein-rich food, higher in calories than salmon. They played a significant role in ceremonies and celebrations, and […]

Lampreys: A Key Species in the High Desert Ecosystem

There is something special about a river that resonates with most people. Even when I was very young, I remember loving the smell and sound of water. Flipping rocks to catch crayfish and caddisflies, chasing minnows in the shallows, and watching salmon spawn on wide gravel beds under gin clear water are the kind of […]

Native Foxes in Central Oregon: Part 3

Beginning in March 2015 Museum staff and volunteers, in collaboration with the USFS, ODFW, The Oregon Zoo, have placed more than ten bait stations and hair snares in areas of the Deschutes National Forest that had never before been surveyed for fox. A whole deer is too heavy to carry into the forest and it’s […]

Native Foxes in Central Oregon: Part 2

Around the same time I saw the fox on the Cascade Lakes Highway, I was working on an undergraduate research project at OSU-Cascades. We were in the early stages of fleshing out a study idea using remote cameras to document the behavior of scavenger species around carrion. The work was tedious and unpleasant. Road-killed deer […]

Native Foxes in Central Oregon: First Contact

It was the end of a hot summer day in 2012 on Little Cultus Lake. My wife was riding shotgun, two sunburned kids on the backseat, all of us singing along with the radio. As I eased around one of the winding corners of the Cascade Lakes Highway towards Bend, a flash of movement caught […]

Sage Grouse: Icon of the Sagebrush Sea

My fascination with sage grouse began 20 years ago with an invitation by a friend to hunt the majestic greater sage-grouse with our falcons. I arrived in late November at his camp on the banks of the Sandy River in Wyoming, along a stretch peppered with Oregon Trail gravesites. This treeless, exposed stretch of river […]

A New Delivery for the High Desert Museum!

In the midst of staff preparations for our 2015 summer season, our porcupine Honey had a baby! A baby porcupine is called a porcupette (believe it or not). After a seven month gestation, they are born with their eyes open and all 30,000 or so quills in place, characteristics that set porcupines apart from many […]

Building the Past to Experience the Present

In Living History, we’re always looking for ways to bring our visitors back to the past. This gives them an authentic and memorable experience. One such experience is the sight, sound, and smell of a black powder musket being fired. For the fur trappers camp during Frontier Days (c. 1820) we had one small need: […]

Treasures of the vault

When I first began working for the High Desert Museum, I was elated to find something tucked away in the vault that I never expected here: this 42 Liberator. It immediately became my favorite object in the collection. I am a huge fan of vintage Harley-Davidsons for many reasons but have always been drawn to […]

barred owl

Museum adds a barred owl to its raptor collection

We’re excited to have just added a fifth owl species to our collection: the barred owl. This beautiful and remarkable species joins our popular hawks, eagles and falcons currently on exhibit. The barred owl is a large owl native to the mixed deciduous/coniferous forests of the eastern U.S. Throughout the 20th century, the species made […]

The story of Snowshoe the lynx

Snowshoe, a male hybrid lynx who lived at the High Desert Museum for nine years, died last night, November 10, 2014. He had been under a veterinarian’s care recently for kidney failure. Snowshoe’s exact age isn’t known but it’s believed he was in his 20s, having lived much longer than lynx do in the wild. […]

Owls at Halloween

Around the world, people have associated owls with mystery, witchcraft and even death. After all, they are creatures of the night, and we humans are inherently fearful of the dark: what we cannot see could hurt us. For example, many African tribal names for owls translate as “witchbird.” And the stark white barn owl is […]

Behind the scenes with raptors and bird nerds

The slow-flying pigeon didn’t have a prayer. From high above, the peregrine falcon zeroed in on its prey, tucked his wings, and dove. With speed topping 200 miles an hour, it struck, talons first, and dispatched the bird from the air. It was mercifully instantaneous. The hunting prowess of falcons, eagles, hawks and owls has […]

Animal Enrichment at the High Desert Museum

Caring for animals at the High Desert Museum involves more than just cleaning, feeding and watering; like the rest of us, bobcats thrive if given numerous opportunities to express their species-specific play behavior. Termed “enrichment,” this regular stimulation is a vital part of keeping them well and happy. We offer them activities that they’d be […]