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The Journals of Lewis and Clark

Lewis, February 17, 1806

Monday February 17th 1806. Collins and Windsor were permited to hunt today towards the praries in Point Adams with a view to obtain some fresh meat for the sick. a little before noon Shannon LaBuishe & Frazier returned with the flesh and hide of an Elk which had been wouded by Sergt. Gass's party and took the water where they pursued it and caught it. they did not see Sergt. Gass or any of his party nor learn what further success they had had. continue the barks with Bratton, and commenced them with Gibson his fever being sufficiently low this morning to permit the uce of them. I think therefore that there is no further danger of his recovery.- at 2 P.M. Joseph Fields arrived from the Salt works and informed us that they had about 2 Kegs of salt on hand which with what we have at this place we suppose will be sufficient to last us to our deposits of that article on the Missouri. we there directed a party of six men to go with Fields in the morning in order to bring the salt and kettles to the fort. Shannon brought me one of the large carrion Crow or Buzzads of the Columbia which they had wounded and taken alive. I bleive this to be the largest bird of North America. it was not in good order and yet it weighed 25 lbs. had it have been so it might very well have weighed 10 lbs mor or 35 lbs. between the extremities of the wings it measured 9 feet 2 inches; from the extremity of the beak to that of the toe 3 F. 91/2 In. from hip to toe 2 feet, girth of head 93/4 In. girth of the neck 71/2 Inches; do. of body exclusive of the wings 2 feet 3 Inches; do of leg 3 inches. diameter of the eye 41/2/toths of an inch. the iris of a pale scarlet red, the puple of deep sea green or black and occupyed about one third of the diameter of the eye. the head and a part of the neck as low as the figures 12 is uncovered with feathers except that portion of it represented by dots (see likeness). the tail is composed of 12 feathers of equal length, each 14 inches. the legs are 43/4 inches in length and of a white colour un covered with feathers, they are not entirely smooth but not imbricated; the toes are four in number three of which are forward and that in the center much the longes; the fourth is short and is inserted near the inner of the three other toes and reather projecting forward. the thye is covered with feathers as low as the knee. the top or upper part of the toes are imbricated with broad scales lying transversly; the nails are blak and in proportion to the size of the bird comparitively with those of the halk or Eagle, short and bluntly pointed. the under side of the wing is covered with white down and feathers. a white stripe of about two inches in width, also marks the outer part of the wing, imbracing the lower points of the feathers, which cover the joints of the wing through their whole length or width of that part of the wing. all the other feathers of whatever part are glossey shining black except the down which is not glossey but equally black. the skin of the beak and head to the joining of the neck is of a pale orrange yellow the other part uncovered with feathers is of a light flesh colour. the skin is thin and wrinkled except on the beak where it is smooth. this bird flys very clumsily nor do I know whether it ever seizes it's prey alive, but am induced to beleive that it dose not. we have seen it feeding on the remains of the whale & other fish which have been thrown up by the waves on the sea coast. these I beleive constitute their prinsipal food, but I have no doubt but they also feed on flesh; we did not met with this bird untill we had decended the Columbia below the great falls, and have found them more abundant below tide-water than above. I beleive that this bird is reather of the Vulture genus than any other, tho it wants some of their charactaristics particularly the hair on the neck and feathers on the legs.- this is a handsome bird at a little distance. it's neck is proportionably longer than those of the hawks or Eagle. Shannon also brought me a grey Eagle which appeared to be of the same kind common to the U States; it weighed 15 lb. and measured 7 Feet 7 Inches between the extremities of the wings.- At 4 P.M. Sergt. Gass and party arrived; they had killed eight Elk. Drewyer and Whitehouse also returned late in the evening, had killed one Elk.- Labuishe informed me that when he approached this vulture, after wounding it, that it made a loud noise very much like the barking of a dog & the tongue is large firm and broad, filling the under chap and partaking of it's transverse curvature, or it's sides colapsing upwards forming a longitudinal groove; obtuse at the point, the margin armed with firm cartelaginous prickkles pointed and bending inwards.