The Journals of Lewis & Clark: Lewis, March 8, 1806

Lewis, March 8, 1806

Saturday March 8th 1806. Bratton is much better today, his back gives him but little pain. Collins returned early in the morning and informed us that he had killed three Elk about five miles distant on the edge of the prarie in Point Adams. one of them fell in a deep pond of water and could not get it, the other two he butcherd and secured. he saw two large herds of Elk in that quarter. we sent Drewyer and Joseph Fields to hunt those Elk. a party were also sent with Labuish for the flesh of the Elk which Drewyer and himself had killed up the netul, they returned with it in the evening. Shields, R. Fields and Frazier returned this evening from the Kilhawanackkle unsuccessfull having seen no Elk. McNeal and Goodrich having recovered from the Louis veneri I directed them to desist from the uce of mercury. The white brant is very common in this country particularly below tidewater where they remain in vast quantities during the winter. they feed like the swan gees &c on the grass roots and seeds which they find in the marshes. this bird is about the size of the brown brant or a third less than the common Canadian or wild goose. the head is proportionably with the goose reather large; the beak also thicker shorter and of much the same form, being of a yellowish white colour except the edges of the chaps, which are frequently of a dark brown. the legs and feet are of the same form of the goose and are of a redish white or pale flesh colour. the tail is composed of sixteen feathers of equal length as those of the geese and brown brant are and bears about the same proportion in point of length. the eye is of a dark colour and nothing remarkable as to size. the wings are rether longer compared with those of the goose but not as much so as in the brown or pided brant. the colour of the plumage of this bird is unifomly a pure white except the large feathers of the extremities of the wings which are black. the large feathers of the 1st joint of the wing next to the body are white. the note of this bird differs essentially from that of the goose; it more resembles that of the brown brant but is somewhat different. it is like the note of young domestic goose which has not perfectly attained it's full note. the flesh of this bird is exceedingly fine, preferable to either the goose or pided brant.- The Brown or pided brant are much the same size and form of the white only that their wings are considerably longer and more pointed. the plumage of the upper part of the body neck head and tail is much the colour of the canadian goose but reather darker in consequence of som dark brown feathers which are distributed and irregularly scattered throughout. they have not the white on the neck and sides of the head as the goose has nor is the neck darker than the body. like the goose there are some white feathers on the rump at the joining of the tail. the beak is dark and the legs and feet also dark with a greenish cast; the breast and belley are of a lighter colour than the back and is also irregularly intermixed with dark brown and black feathers which give it a pided appearance. the flesh of this bird is dark and in my estimation reather better than that of the goose. the habits of this bird are the same nearly with the goose and white brant with this difference that they do not remain in this climate in such numbers during the winter as the others, and that it sets out earlier in the fall season on it's return to the south and arrives later in the spring than the goose. I see no difference between this bird and that called simply the brant, common to the lakes the Ohio and Mississippi &c. The small goose of this country is reather less than the brant; it's head and neck like the brant are reather larger than that of the goose in proportion; their beak is also thicker and shorter. their notes are more like those of our tame gees; in all other rispects they are the same with the large goose with which, they so frequently ascociate that it was some time after I first observed this goose before I could determine whether it was a distinct speceis or not. I have now no hesitation in declaring them a distinct speceis. the large goose is the same of that common on the Atlantic coast, and known by the appellation of the wild, or Canadian goose.