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

Pelican

Capt. Clark, August 8,  1804--in my absence the boat passed a Island 2 Miles above the litle Scouix R on the upper point of this Isld Some hundreds of Pelicans were collected, they left 3 fish on the Sand which was very fine, Cap Lewis Killed one, & took his dimentions,

Capt. Lewis, August 8, 1804--we had seen but a few aquatic fouls of any kind on the river since we commenced our journey up the Missouri, a few geese accompanied by their young, the wood duck which is common to every part of this country & crains of several kinds which will be discribed in their respective places this day after we had passed the river Souix as call by Mr. Mackay (or as is more properly called the stone river, I saw a great number of feathers floating down the river those feathers had a very extraordinary appearance as they appeared in such quantitities as to cover prettey generally sixty or seventy yards of breadth of the river. for three miles after I saw those feather continu[e] to run in that manner, we did not percieve from whence they came, at length we were surprised by the appearance of a flock of Pillican at rest on a large sand bar attached to a small Island the number of which would if estimated appear almost in credible; they apeared to cover several acres of ground, and were no doubt engaged in procuring their ordiary food. which is fish; on our approach they flew and left behind several small fish of about eight inches in length, none of which I had seen before. the Pellican rested again on a sand bar above the Island which we called after them from the number we saw on it. we now approached them within about three hundred yards before they flew; I then fired at random among the flock with my rifle and brought one down; the discription of this bird is as follows.

HABITS

They are a bird of clime remain on the coast of Floriday and the borders of the Gulph of mexico & even the lower portion of the Mississippi during the winter and in the Spring (see for date my thermometrical observations at the river Dubois), visit this country and that fa[r]ther north for the purpose of raising their young. this duty seems now to have been accomplished from the appearance of a young Pilacon which was killed by one of our men this morning, and they are now in large flocks on their return to their winter quarters. they lay usually two eggs only and chuise for a nest a couple of logs of drift wood near the water's edge and with out any other preparation but the thraught formed by the proximity of those two logs which form a trought they set and hatch their young which after[wards they] nurture with fish their common food.

MEASURE
  F I
F[r]om beak to toe 5. 8
Tip to tip of wing 9 4.
Beak Length 1 3.
Do (ed. "Ditto" [Beak]) Width from   2. to 1 1/2
  F  
Neck Length 1 11.
1st Joint of wing 1 1.
2nd Do 1 4 1/2
3rd Do - 7.
4th Do - 2 3/4
Length of leg including foot   10.
Do of thy   11.

Discription of Colour &c. The beak is a whiteish yellow the under part connected to a bladder like a pouch, this pouch is connected to both sides of the lower beak and extends down on the under side of the neck and terminates in the stomach this pouch is uncovered with feathers, and is formed [of] two skins the one on the inner and the other on the outer side a small quantity of flesh and strings of which the anamal has at pleasure the power of moving or drawing in such a manner as to contract it at pleasure. in the present subject I measured this pouch and found it's contents 5. gallons of water The feet are webbed large and of a yellow color, it has four toes the hinder toe is longer than in most aquatic fouls, the nails are black, not sharp and 1/2 an inch in length. The plumage generally is white, the feathers are thin compared with the swan goose or most aquatic fouls and has but little or no down on the body. the upper part of the head is covered with black f[e]athe[r]s short, as far as the back part of the head. the yellow skin unfeathered extends back from the upper beak and opening of the mouth and comes to a point just behind the eye the large [f]eathers of the wings are deep black colour the 1st & 2nd joint of [the wings] from the body above the same is covered with a second layer of white feathers which extend quite half the length of those large feathers of the wing the thye is covered with feathers within a quarter of an inch of the knee.

1st Joint of wing has feather[s] No. 21 Length 9 Inch
Black
2nd Do. No. 17 Length 13 Inch
3rd Do. No. 5 Length 18 Inch
4th Do. No. 3 Lenth 19 Inch

it has a curious frothy subs[t]ance which seems to divide its feathers from the flesh of the body and seems to be composes of Glob[u]les of air and perfectly imbraces the part of the feather which extends through the skin. the wind pipe terminates in the center of the lower part of the upper and unf[e]athered part of the pouch and is secured by an elastic valve commanded at pleasure.

Capt. Clark, September 11, 1804--the men with me killed an Elk, 2 Deer & a Pelican

Capt. Clark, October 18, 1804--our hunters killed 4 Coats [Goats] 6 Deer 4 Elk & a pelican & informs us that they Saw in one gang: 248 Elk,

Capt. Clark, October 19, 1804--our hunters killed 4 Elk 6 Deer & a pelican,

Capt. Clark, July 17, 1806--Saw a single pelican & a pen to catch birds

Capt. Lewis, August 5, 1806--we also saw on our way immence herds of buffaloe & Elk, many deer Antelops, wolves, geese Eagles &c. but few ducks or prarie hens. the geese cannot fly at present; I saw a solitary Pillacon the other day in the same situation. this happens from their sheding or casting the f[e]athers of the wings at this season.

Capt. Clark, September 4, 1806--we See no Species of Game on the river as usial except wild geese and pelicans.

Capt. Clark, September 5, 1806--We saw no game on the Shores to day worth killing only such as pelicans Geese ducks, Eagles and Hawks &c.

 
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