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

Avocet

Capt. Lewis, May 1, 1805--Shannon killed a bird of the plover kind. the weight one pound eye black percing and prominent.

MEASURE
  F Inches
from the tip of the toe to the extremity of the beak 1 10
from tip to tip of wing when extended 2 5
length of beak - 3 5/8
length of tale - 3 1/8
length of leg and toe - 10

the legs are flat, of a pale skye blue colour and but slightly imbricated. the second joint, as low as the mustle extends is covered with feathers which is about half it's length. it has three toes on a foot connected by a web. there is also a small toe on each foot placed about the eighth of an inch up the leg behi[n]d. the nails are black and short and those of the middle toes ar[e] singular - there being two nails on each the one above the other the upper one the longest and sharpest. the tale contains eleven feathers of the same length of a bluish white colour. the body and under side of the wings except the large feathers of the 1 and 2ed joints of the wings are white, as are also the feathers of the upper part of the 4th joint of the wing. and some of those of the 3rd adjoining. the large feathers of the pinion or the first & the second joint are black; a part of the larger feathers of the third-joint on the upper side and all the smaller feathers which cover the upper part of these joints ar[e] black; as are also the tuft of long feathers on each side of the body above the joining of the wing, leaving however a stripe of white between them on the back. the head and neck are shaped much like the grey plover, and is a light brick-dust brown. the beak is black and flat, largest where it joins the head and from thence tapering every way gradually to a very sharp point the upper beak being 1/8 of an inch the longest turning down at the point. the nostrils are parallal with the beak and are long narrow and connected. the beak is curvated and inverted; the Curvature being upwards in stead of downwards as those of most birds are the substance of the beak is as flexable as whalebone and at a little distance precisely resembles that substance. their note is like that of the common whistling or grey plover tho' reather louder, and more varied, and their habits are the same with that bird so far as I have been enabled to learn, with this difference however that this bird sometimes lights in the water and swims. it generally feads about the shallow bars of the river; to collect it's food, it immerces it's beak in the water, and th[r]ows it's head and beak from side to side at every step it takes.

Capt. Lewis, July 17, 1806--we saw a number of goats as usual today, also the party coloured plover with the brick red head and neck; the bird remains about the little ponds which are distributed over the face of these plains and here raise their young.

 
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