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

Lewis' Woodpecker

Capt. Lewis, July 20, 1805--I saw a black woodpecker (or crow) today about the size of the lark woodpecker as black as a crow. I indevoured to get a shoot at it but could not. It is a distinct species of woodpecker; it has a long tail and flys a good deel like the jay bird.

Capt. Lewis, May 27, 1806--The black woodpecker which I have frequently mentioned and which is found in most parts of the roky Mountains as well as the Western and S. W. mountains, I have never an opportunity of examining untill a few days since when we killed and preserved several of them. this bird is about the size of the lark woodpecker or the turtle dove, tho' it's wings are longer than either of those birds. the beak is black, one inch long, reather wide at the base, somewhat curved, and sharply pointed; the chaps are of equal length. around the base of the beak including the eye and a small part of the throat is of a fine crimson red. The neck and as low as the croop in front is of an iron grey. the belly and breast is a curious mixture of white and blood reed which has much the appearance of having been artificially painted or stained of that colour. The red reather predominates. the top of the head back, sides, upper surface of the wings and tail are black, with a g[l]ossey tint of green in a certain exposure to the light. the underside of the wings and tail are of a sooty black. it has ten feathers in the tail, sharply pointed, and those in the centre reather longest, being 2-1/2 inches in length. The tongue is barbed, pointed, and of an elastic cartelaginous substance. The eye is moderately large, puple black and iris of a dark yellowish brown. this bird in it's actions when flying resembles the small redheaded woodpecke[r] common to the Atlantic states; it's note also somewhat resembles that bird. the pointed tail seems to assist it in seting with more eas or retaining it its resting position against the perpendicular side of a tree. the legs and feet are black and covered with wide imbricated scales. it has four toes on each foot of which two are in the rear and two in front; the nails are much curved long and remarkably keen or sharply pointed. it feeds on bugs and worms and a variety of insects.

Capt. Clark, May 27, 1806--The Black Wood pecker which is found in most parts of the rocky mountains as well as the western and S W. mountains, I had never an oppertunity of examineing untill a fiew days since when we killed and preserved several of them. this bird is about the size of the lark woodpecker or the turtle dove, tho' it's wings are longer than either of these birds. the beak is black, one inch long reather wide at the base, somewhat cirved, and sharply pointed; the chaps are of equal length. around the bace of the beak including the eye and a small part of the throat is of a crimson red. the neck and as low as the croop in front is of an iron gray. the belly and breast is of a curious mixture of white and blood red which has much the appearance of having been artificially painted or stained of that colour, the red reather predominates. the top of the head, back, sides, upper surface of the wings and tail are black, the under side of the wings and tail are black. it has ten feathers in the tail, sharply pointed, and those in the center reather longest, being 2 ½ inches in length. the tongue is barbed, pointed, and of an elastic cartilaginous substance. the eye is moderately large, puple black and iris of a dark yellowish brown. this bird in it's actions when flying resemble the small redish woodpecker common to the atlantic states; it's note also somewhat resembles that bird. the pointed tail seems to assist it in sitting with more ease or retaining it, in it's resting position against the perpendicular side of a tree. the legs and feet are black, and covered with imbricated scales. it has four toes on each foot, of which tow are in rear and two in front; the nails are much curved long and remarkably keen or sharply pointed. it feeds on bugs, worms and a variety of insects.

 
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