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Lewis & Clark as Naturalists
The Journals Lewis and Clark as Naturalists

Western Tanager

Capt. Lewis, June 6, 1806--we meet with a beautiful little bird in this neighborhood about the size and somewhat the shape of the large sparrow.  it is reather longer in proportion to its bulk than the sparrow.  it measures 7 inches from the extremity of the beak to that of the tail, the latter ocupying 2 ½ inches.  the beak is reather more than half an inch inlength and is formed much the virginia nitingale; it is thick and large for a bird of it's size; wide at the base, both chaps convex, and pointed, the upper exceeds the under chap a little is somewhat curved and of a brown colour; the lower chap of a greenish yellow.  the eye full reather large and of a black colour both purple and iris.  the plumage is remarkably delicate; that of the neck and head is of a fine orrange yellow and red, the latter predominates on the top of the head and arround the base of the beak from whence it graduly deminishes and towards the lower part of the neck, the orrange yellow prevails most; the red has the appearance of being laid over a ground of yellow.  the breats, the sides, rump and some long feathers which lie between the legs and exend underneath the tail are of a fine orrange yellow.  the tail, back and wings are black except a small stripe of yellow on the outer part of the middle joint of the wing.  ¼ of an inch wide and in inch in length; the tail is composed of twelve feathers of which toes in the center are reather shortest, and the plumage of all the feathers of the tail is longest on tat side of the quill next the center of the tail.  the legs and feet are black, nails long and sharp; it has four toes on each foot, of which three are forward and one behind; that behind is as long as the two outer of the three toes in front.

 
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