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

Mountain Quail

Capt. Clark, April 6, 1806--Reubin Fields killed a bird of the quail kind or class which was whistleing near our camp it is larger than the quail or partridge as they are called [in] Kentucky and Virginia, its form is presisely that of our partridge tho' its plumage differs in every part. the upper part of the head, sides and back of the neck, including the Croop and about 1/3 of the under part of the body is of a bright dove coloured blue, under neath the under beak, as high as the lower edge of the eye, and back as far as the hinder part of the eyes and thence comeing down to a point in the front of the neck about 2/3rd of it's length downwards, is of a find dark brick red. between this brick red and the dove colour there runs a narrow stripe of pure white. the ears are covered with some coarse dark brown feathers. just at the base of the under chap there is a narrow transvirce stripe of white. from the crown of the head two long round feathers extend backwards nearly in the direction of the beak and are of a black colour. the length of these feathers is 2 1/2 inches. one overlais and conseals the other which is somewhat shorter and seems to be [w]raped in the plumage of that in front which folding backwards colapses behind and has a round appearance. the tail is composed of 12 dark brown feathers of nearly equal length. the large feathers of the wings are of a dark brown & are reather short in purpotion to the body of the bird. in this respect very similar to the partridge. the covert of the wings and back are of a dove colour with a slight admixture of redish brown. a wide stripe which extends from side to side of the body and occupies the lower region of the breast is beautifully varigated with the brick red white & black which perdominates in the order they are mention and the colours mark the feathers transversely. the legs are covered with feathers as low as the Knee; these feathers are of dark brown tiped with dark brick red as are also those between and about the joining of the legs with the body. the foot is presisely that of the common partridge except that they are as also the legs white. the upper beak is short, wide at it's base, black, convex, curved downwards and reather obtusely pointed. it exceeds the under chap considerably which is of a white colour, also convex underneath and obtusely pointed. the nostrils are remarkably small, placed far back and low down on the sides of the beak. they are covered by a thin prot[ub]erant elastic, black leather like substance. the eyes are of a uniform pierceing black colour. this is a most butifull bird I preserved the skin of this bird retaining the wings feet & head which I hope will give a just Idea of the bird. it's loud note is single and consists of a loud squall, intirely different from the whistling of our partridge or quailes. it has a chirping noted when allarmed like our partridge. to day there was a second of those birds killed which precisely resembles that just discribed. I believe those to be the mail bird the female, if so, I have not yet seen.

Capt. Lewis, April 7, 1806--last evening Reubin Field killed a bird of the quail it is reather larger than the quail, or partridge as they are called in Virginia. (copy for Dr. Barton) it's form is precisely that of our partridge tho' it's plumage differs in every part. the upper part of the head, sides and back of the neck, including the croop and about 1/3 of the under part of the body is of a bright dovecoloured blue, underneath the under beak, as high as the lower edge of the eyes, and back as far as the hinder part of the eyes and thence coming down to a point in front of the neck about two thirds of it's length downwards, is of a find dark brick red. between this brick red and the dove colour there runs a narrow stripe of pure white. the ears are covered with some coarse stiff dark brown feathers. just at the base of the under chap there is [a] narrow transverse stripe of white. from the crown of the head two long round feathers extend backwards nearly in the direction of the beak and are of a black colour. the longest of these feathers is two inches and a half, it overlays and conceals the other which is somewhat shorter and seems to be raped in the plumage of that in front which folding backwards colapses behind and has a round appearance. the tail is composed of twelve dark brown feathers of nearly equal length. the large feathers of the wings are of a dark brown and are reather short in proportion to the body of the bird in that rispect very similar to our common partridge. the covert of the wings and back are of a dove colour with a slight admixture of redish brown. a wide stripe which extends from side to side of the body and occupyes the lower region of the breast is beautifully variagated with the brick red white and black which predominate in the order they are mentioned and the colours mark the feathers transversely. the legs are covered with feathers as low as the knee; these feathers are of dark brown tiped with dark brick red as are also those between and about the joining of the legs with the body. they have four toes on each foot of which three are in front and that in the center the longest, those one [on] each side nearly of a length; that behing[d] is also of good length and are all armed with long and strong nails. the legs and feet are white and imbrecated with proportionably large broad scales. the upper beak is short, wide at it's base, black, convex, curved downwards and reather obtusely pointed. it exceeds the under chap considerably which is of a white colour, also convex underneath and obtusely pointed. the nostrils are remarkably small, placed far back and low down on the sides of the beak. they are covered by a thin protuberant elastic, black leatherlike substance. the eyes are of a uniform piercing black colour. this is a most beautifull bird I preserved the skin of this bird retaining the wings feet and head which I hope will give a just idea of the bird. it's loud note is single and consists of a loud squall, intirely different from the whistling of our quales or partridge. it has a chirping noted when allarmed something like ours. today there was a second of those birds killed [by Capt C.] which precisely resembled that just discribed. I believe these to be the male bird the female, if so, I have not yet seen.

 
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