Entry in progress—B.P.
(Oxford English Dictionary)
sage cock n.
1840 A. Wislizenus Ausflug nach Felsen-Gebirgen 1839 ix. 49 Sage cock, cock of the plains.
sage hen n. = sage cock n.
1843 J. Williams Jrnl. 27 July in Narr. Tour to Oregon 14 The sage hen is found here also.
1861 G. F. Berkeley Eng. Sportsman ii. 25 There is a certain bird of the grouse species..called the ‘sage hen’.
1917 E. H. Forbush in T. G. Pearson Birds Amer. II. 29 Sage Hen..Cock of the Plains..exceeds all other Grouse in size, with the possible exception of the great Black Grouse.. of Europe.
22 March 1866, Louisville (KY) Daily Journal, “Nicknames,” pg. 1, col. 4:
Nevada, Sage State.
The natives of these States are:
... Nevada, sage hens; ...
7 April 1866, The Daily Cleveland Herald (Cleveland, OH), “Geographical Nicknames,” pg. 2, col. 2:
... Nevada, Sage State; ...
... Nevada, sage hens: ...
An Index to the United States of America
Compiled by Malcolm Townsend
Boston, MA: D. Lothrop Company
NICKNAMES APPLIED TO THE PEOPLE OF THE STATES.
Nevada...Sage-hens...From the game bird, Tetrao Artimesia [called by Audubon “The Cock of the Plains,"] from frequenting and feeding on the sage that grows in profusion. The bird is of handsome plumage, and almost the size of a hen turkey.
3 June 1896, The Morning Herald (Lexington, KY), “The Nicknames of Twenty-Eight States of the Union,” pg. 6, col. 3:
Nevadans are “Sage Hens.”