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

Great Gray Owl

Capt. Clark, May 23, 1806--our hunters brought us a large hooting which differ from those of the Atlantic states. The plumage of this owl is an uniform mixture of dark yellowish brown and white, in which the dark brown predominates. it's colour may be properly termed a dark Iron gray. the plumage is very long and remarkably silky and soft. those have not the long feathers on the head which give it the appearance of ears or horns. remarkable large eyes.

Capt. Lewis, May 28, 1806--our hunters brought us a large hooting Owl which differs considerably from those of the Atlantic States which are also common here. the plumage of this owl is an uniform mixture of dark yellowish brown and white, in which the dark brown predominates. it's colour may be properly termed a dark iron grey. the plumage is very long and remarkably silky and soft. these have not the long feathers on the head which give it the appearance of ears or horns. the feathers of the head are long narrow and closely set, they rise upwright nearly to the extremity and then are bent back suddenly as iff curled. a kind of ruff of these feathers incircle the th[r]oat. The head has a flat appearance being broadest before and behind and is 1 foot 10 Is. in circumference. incircling the eyes and extending from them like rays from the center a tissue of open hairy long feathers are placed of a light grey colour, these conceal the ears which are very large and are placed close to the eyes behind and extending below them. These feathers meet over the beak which they nearly conceal and form the face of the owl. they eyes are remarkably large and prominent, the iris of a pale goald colour and iris [sc. pupil] circular and of a deep sea green. the beak is short and wide at its base. the upper chap is much curved at the extremity and comes down over and in front of the under chap. this bird is about the size of the largest hooting Owl. the tail is composed of eleven feathers, of which those in the center are reather the longest. it is booted to the extremity of the toes, of which it has four on each foot, one in the rear one on the outer side and two in the front. the toes are short particularly that in the rear, but are all armed with long keen curved nails of a dark brown colour. the beak is white and nostrils circular large and unconnected. the habits and note of this owl is much that of the common large hooting owl.

 
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