The Journals of Lewis & Clark: Lewis, August 8, 1804
Lewis, August 8, 1804
August 8th 1804
we had seen but a few aquatic fouls of any kind on the river since we commenced our journey up the Missouri, a few geese accompanied by their young, the wood duck which is common to every part of this country & crains of several kinds which will be discribed in their respective places- this day after we had passed the river Souix as called by Mr. MacKay (or as is more properly called the stone river,) I saw a great number of feathers floating down the river those feathers had a very extraordinary appearance as they appeared in such quantities as to cover pretty generally sixty or seventy yards of the breadth of the river. for three miles after I saw those feathers continuing to run in that manner, we did not percieve from whence they came, at length we were surprised by the appearance of a flock of Pillican at rest on a large sand bar attatched to a small Island the number of which would if estimated appear almost in credible; they apeared to cover several acres of ground, and were no doubt engaged in procuring their ordinary food; which is fish, on our approach they flew and left behind them several small fish of about eight inches in length, none of which I had seen before- the Pellican rested again on a sand bar above the Island which we called after them from the number we saw on it. we now approached them within about three hundred yards before they flew; I then fired at random among the flock with my rifle and brought one down; the discription of this bird is as follows.
They are a bird of clime remain on the coast of Floriday and the borders of the Gulph of mexico & even the lower portion of the Mississippi during the winter and in the Spring (see for date my thermometrical observations at the river Dubois.-) visit this country and that farther north for the purpose of raising their young- this duty seems now to have been accomplished from the appearance of a young Pilacon which was killed by one of our men this morning, and they are now in large flocks on their return to their winter quarters. they lay usually two eggs only and chuise for a nest a couple of logs of drift wood near the water's edge and with out any other preperation but the thraught formed by the proximity of those two logs which form a trough they set and hatch their young which after nurture with fish their common food
From beak to toe 5 8 Tip to tip of wing 9 4 Beak Length 1 3 Do. Width from 2 to 11/2 Neck Length 1 11 1st joint of wing 1 1 2ed Do. 1 41/2 3rd Do. - 7 4th do. - 23/4 Length of leg including foot 10 Do. of thy 11
Discription of Colour &c
The beak is a whiteish yellow the under part connected to a bladder like pouch, this pounch is connected to both sides of the lower beak and extends down on the under side of the neck and terminates in the stomach- this pouch is uncovered with feathers, and is formed two skins the one on the inner and the other on the center side a small quantity of flesh and strings of which the anamal has at pleasure the power of moving or drawing in such manner as to contract it at pleasure. in the present subject I measured this pouch and found it's contents 5 gallons of water
The feet are webbed large and of a yellow colour, it has four toes the hinder toe is longer than in most aquatic fouls, the nails are black, not sharp and 1/2 an inch in length
The plumage generally is white, the feathers are thin compared with the swan goose or most aquatick fouls and has but little or no down on the body. the upper part of the head is covered with black feathers short, as far as the back part of the head- the yellow skin unfeathered extends back from the upper beak and opening of the mouth and comes to a point just behind the eye
The large feathers of the wings are of a deep black colour- the 1st & 2nd joint of from the body above the same is covered with a second layer of white feathers which extend quite half the length of those large feathers of the wing- the thye is covered with feathers within a quarter of an inch of the knee. Inch 1st joint of wing has feathers No. 21 Length 9 Black 2ed Do. No. 17 Length 13 Inch 3rd Do. No. 5 Length 18 Inch 4th Do. No. 3 Length 19 Inch
it has a curious frothy substance which seems to devide its feathers from the flesh of the body and seems to be composes of globles of air and perfectly imbraces the part of the feather which extends through the skin.the wind pipe terminates in the center of the lower part of the upper and unfeathered part of the pouch and is secured by an elastic valve commanded at pleasure.
The green insect known in the U States by the name of the sawyer or chittediddle, was first heard to cry on the 27th of July, we were then in latitude 41° some minutes.
The prarie hen or grouse, was seen in the praries between the Missouri and the river platte