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

Canada Goose

Capt. Lewis, April 13, 1805--This lake and it’s discharge we call goos Egg from the circumstance of Capt. Clark shooting a goose while on her nest in the top of a lofty cotton wood tree, from which we afterwards took one egg. the wild gees frequently guild their nests in this manner, at least we have already found several in trees, nor have we as yet seen any on the ground or sand bars where I had supposed from previous information that they most commonly deposited their eggs.

Capt. Lewis, April 14, 1805--we saw many gees feeding on the tender grass in the praries and several of their nests in the trees; we have not in the single instance found the nest of this bird on or near the ground.

Capt. Lewis, May 3, 1805--found the nest of a wild goose among some driftwood in the river from which we took three eggs. this is the only nest we have met with on driftwood, the usual position is the top of a broken tree, sometimes in the forks of a large tree but almost invariably, from 15 to 20 feet or upwards high.

Capt. Lewis, May 23, 1805--The Gees begin to lose the feathers of their wings and are unable to fly.

At one time, naturalists thought that there were two distinct species of Canadian goose, one being designated as "lesser". Currently, these birds are considered to be a phenotype of the species rather than as a separate species.

Capt. Lewis, May 5, 1805--saw a great number of white brant also the common brown brant, geese of the common kind and a small species of geese which differ considerably from the common canadian goose; their neck, head and beak are considerably thicker shorter and larger than the other in proportion to it’s size they are also more than a third smaller, and their note more like that of the brant or a young goose which has not perfectly acquired his notes; in all other rispects they are the same in colour habits and the number of feathers in the tale, they frequently also ascociate with the large geese when in flocks, but never saw them pared off with the large or common goose.

Capt. Clark, May 26, 1805--I saw a great number of white brant, also the common brown brant, Geese of the common size & kind and a small Species of geese, which differs considerably from the common or Canadian Goose; their necks, head and backs are considerably thicker, shorter and larger than the other in propotion to its size they are also more than a third smaller, and their note more like that of the brant or young goose which has not perfectly acquired this note; in all other respect they are the same in colour habits and the number of feathers in the tail, they frequently also ascoiate with the large Geese when in flocks, but never saw them pared off with the larger or common goose.

Capt. Lewis, July 21, 1805--we daily see great numbers of gees with their young which are perfectly feathered except the wings which are deficient in both young and old. My dog caught several today, as hw frequently dose. the young ones are very fine, but the old gees are poor and unfit for uce.

Capt. Lewis, July 25, 1805--we killed a couple of young gees which are very abundant and fine; but as they are but small game to subsist a party on our strength I have forbid the men shooting at them as it waists a considerable quantity of amunition and delays our progress.

Capt. Lewis, March 8, 1806--The small goose of this country is reather less than the brant; it’s head and neck like the brant are reather larger than that of the goos in proportion; their beak is also thicker and shorter. their notes are more like those of our tame gees; in all other rispects they are the same with the large goose with which, they so frequently associate that it was some time after I first observed this goose before I could determine whether it was a distinct speceis. the large goose is the same of that common on the Atlantic coast, and known by the appellation of the wild, or Canadian goose.

Capt. Clark, March 8, 1806--The Small Goose of this country is reather less than the Brant; it’s head and neck like the brant are reather larger than that of the goose in purpotion; their beak is also thicker and shorter. their notes are more like those of our taim geese, in all other respect they are the same with the large goose with which, they so frequently asociate, that it was some time after I first observed this goose before I could [tell] whether it was a distinct speces or not. I have no hesitation now in declaring them a distinct species. the large Goose is the same of that common to the Ohio, and atlantic coast, and known by the appellation of the wild, or Canadian Goose.

 
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