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Lewis & Clark as Naturalists
The Collection: Locality Information Lewis and Clark as Naturalists

We can't all excel at everything, or expect that Lewis and Clark would. Skilled as they were at describing mammals and plants their bird descriptions were more uneven. Some birds were so thoroughly described that it is impossible to make a false identification. The poorer descriptions, though, make identifying some birds uncertain. There were also the mistaken identities. Lewis saw one water bird and decided it was a loon-it wasn't. Clark figured another bird was a gull, and it wasn't.
Nonetheless, they sufficiently described over 50 species of birds. Some birds were new to science and others that were known got their geographic ranges extended. Their references to the passenger pigeon and Carolina parakeet placed the ranges of the two well beyond the Mississippi River, the previous known limit. The California condor, or 'buzzard' as they liked to call it, is today found exclusively in warm, dry climates around the Grand Canyon and in southern California. Reading from the journals of Lewis and Clark we learn that this magnificent bird was common along the cool, damp Oregon and Washington coast. Adding to their triumphs, they did manage to get one western bird back to Washington alive, the raucous, black-billed magpie!
Greater 19th century ornithologists were to follow with the likes of Alexander Wilson and James Audubon, yet Lewis and Clark gave us the first glimpse of bird diversity west of the Mississippi River.

Species Common Name
Aechmophorus clarkii Clark's Grebe
Anser albifrons Greater White-fronted Goose
Ardea alba Great Egret
Aythya collaris Ring-necked Duck
Bonasa umbellus Ruffed Grouse
Branta canadensis Canada Goose
Bubo virginianus Great Horned Owl
Calcarius mccownii Mccown's Longspur
Carduelis tristis American Goldfinch
Catoptrophorus semipalmatus Willet
Centrocercus urophasianus Greater Sage-Grouse
Chordeiles minor Common Nighthawk
Colaptes auratus Northern Flicker
Conuropsis carolinensis Carolina Parakeet
Corvus brachyrhynchos American Crow
Corvus caurinas Northwestern Crow
Corvus corax Common Raven
Cyanocitta stelleri Steller's Jay
Cygnus buccinator Trumpeter Swan
Cygnus columbianus Tundra Swan
Dendragapus obscurus Blue Grouse
Dryocopus pileatus Pileated Woodpecker
Ectopistes migratorius Passenger Pigeon
Eremophila alpestris Horned Lark
Euphagus cyanocephalus Brewer's Blackbird
Falcipennis canadensis Spruce Grouse
Fulmarus glacialis Northern Fulmar
Gavia pacifica Pacific Loon
Gymnogyps californianus California Condor
Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus Pinyon Jay
Lanius ludovicianus Loggerhead Shrike
Larus glaucescens Glaucous-winged Gull
Larus occidentalis Western Gull
Larus philadelphia Bonaparte's Gull
Melanerpes erythrocephalus Red-headed Woodpecker
Melanerpes lewis Lewis' Woodpecker
Nucifraga columbiana Clark's Nutcracker
Numenius americanus Long-billed Curlew
Oreortyx pictus Mountain Quail
Pelecanus erythrorhynchos White Pelican
Perisoreus canadensis Gray Jay
Phalacrocorax auritus Double-crested Cormorant
Phalaenoptilus nutallii Common Poorwill
Pica hudsonia Black-Billed Magpie
Picoides pubescens and Picoides villosus Downy and Hairy Woodpecker
Piranga ludoviciana Western Tanager
Podiceps grisegena Red-necked Grebe
Recurvirostra americana American Avocet
Selasphorus platycercus Broad-tailed Hummingbird
Selasphorus rufus Rufous Hummingbird
Sterna antillarum Least Tern
Sterna forsteri Forster's Tern
Strix nebulosa Great Gray Owl
Sturnella neglecta Western Meadowlark
Troglodytes troglodytes Winter Wren
Tympanuchus phasianellus Sharp-tailed Grouse
Zenaida macroura Mourning Dove

Image Display <EM>Phalacrocorax auritus</EM>
Phalacrocorax auritus

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