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Lewis & Clark as Naturalists
The Collection: Species Details Lewis and Clark as Naturalists
Bird    Species Name:
Corvus brachyrhynchos

Common Name:
American Crow


Astoria, Oregon
Tongue Point, near Astoria
  November 29, 1805

A litany of birds in the Columbia River estuary

Having moved from the north bank to the south bank of the river across the wide reach of the Columbia's estuary, Lewis and the men spent some wretched days pinned down by high winds and waves, and pelting rain.  Winter storms of the Northwest Pacific coast made life miserable.  Yet Lewis at least paused to record a glimpse of the bird life within view.  He mentions crows and ravens without recognizing two distinct crows along the Columbia River.  Lewis would have seen the more common American crow from the time he left Washington, DC and all across the country.  Once along the Pacific Northwest though, another crow with a lower, huskier voice could be seen, the Northwestern crow.  Lewis did not make the distinction between these two species.

Ironically, Washington, DC also has two species of crows, the American crow and fish crow.  These two are nearly identical, except for the fish crow being slightly smaller and having a more nasal call.  Did Lewis miss these subtle distinctions?

Journal Entries:

The explorers actually saw three types of crows during their long journey - the American crow, the northwestern crow, and the common raven.
Capt....  more>>

Sound    American crow (group) (0:00, 87 kb)
Credit: Wind Cave National Park
Sound    American crow (individuals) (0:00, 220 kb)
Credit: Tall Grass Prairie National Preserve

See following caption
American Crow

See following caption
American Crow

See following caption
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)

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