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Lewis & Clark as Naturalists
The Collection: Species Details Lewis and Clark as Naturalists
Bird    Species Name:
Perisoreus canadensis

Common Name:
Gray Jay


Fort Clatsop, Oregon   January 3, 1806

Camp robber

On the second day of the new year, 1806, Lewis began his journal passage by remarking on two elk the hunters had brought into camp.  He then listed the birds that capture the groups attention.  Among the more colorful and larger birds, Lewis writes there is a smaller corvus with a white breast, which has been taken by Lewis and Clark scholars to be the gray jay. 

Gray jays can show bold behavior around campsites, often stealing unprotected food and even non-food items.

Journal Entries:

The "smaller corvus with the white brest" in the second and third entries below is thought to be the gray jay. We also include here Capt. Lewis’ notes ...  more>>

References Linné, Carl von, Systema Naturae per Regna Tria Naturae, Secundum Classes, Ordines, Genera, Species, Cum Characteribus, Differentiis, Synonymis, Locis, ed. 12, 3 vols in 4 parts, Holmiae, impensis direct. L. Salvii, 1766

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See following caption
gray jay

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Gray jay illustrated by Alexander Wilson

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Juvenile gray jay, Eagle Mountain, Minnesota. Juveniles have much darker plumage than adults.

See following caption
gray jay

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