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Lewis & Clark as Naturalists
The Collection: Species Details Lewis and Clark as Naturalists
Bird    Species Name:
Piranga ludoviciana

Common Name:
Western Tanager

Family:
Thraupidae

Localities:
Kamiah, Idaho   June 6, 1806

beautiful little bird

Seeing this colorful bird while heading homeward should have lifted the spirits of Lewis in the spring of 1806.  The male's red head set against a bright yellow throat and breast is both beautiful, and unmistakable.  There really is no other bird to be confused with the western tanager, and Lewis' description is very accurate to that point. 

This is one of the few birds that Lewis and Clark collected and then managed to send back East.  When Alexander Wilson completed the first published account on the western tanager (see reference below), he relied on a specimen collected by Lewis and Clark. 



Journal Entries:

Capt. Lewis, June 6, 1806--we meet with a beautiful little bird in this neighborhood about the size and somewhat the shape of the large ...  more>>

References Wilson, Alexander, American Ornithology; or, the Natural History of the Birds of the United States: Illustrated with Plates Engraved and Colored from Original Drawings taken from Nature, 3 vols, Bradford and Inskeep, Philadephia, 1811

see following caption

Other Skull Views:
western tanager skull, side


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western tanager

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western tanager, male, back

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western tanager, male, front

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western tanager illustrated by Alexander Wilson from a specimen collected by Lewis and Clark

See following caption
western tanager


 
 
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