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Lewis & Clark as Naturalists
The Collection: Species Details Lewis and Clark as Naturalists
Bird    Species Name:
Melanerpes lewis

Common Name:
Lewis' Woodpecker


North of Helena, Montana   July 20, 1805

A bird for Meriwether Lewis

A specimen of Lewis' woodpecker made its way back East where it was housed in Charles Wilson Peale's museum in Philadelphia.  There it was studied and illustrated by Alexander Wilson.  Although Wilson's scientific name for the bird, Picus torquatus, is no longer accepted, his bold illustration is a fine legacy to his interests and abilities.

Lewis' woodpecker would catch the attentions of anybody with even a vague interest in birds.  It is a large woodpecker marked with striking pomegranite reds, grays, metallic green and black, yet it's behavior in flight and alighting is more like that of a perching, or passerine bird than it is a woodpecker.

Journal Entries:

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 ...  more>>

References Gray, George Robert, The Genera of Birds : comprising their generic characters ... and an extensive list of species, 3 App. p.22., Longman, Brown, Green, & Longmans, London, 1849

see following caption

See following caption
Lewis' woodpecker

See following caption
Lewis' woodpecker illustrated by Alexander Wilson from a specimen collected by Lewis and Clark

See following caption
Lewis' Woodpecker (Melanerpes lewis)

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