The Journals of Lewis & Clark: March 2, 1806
March 2, 1806
Sunday March 2cd The diet of the sick is so inferior that they recover their strength but slowly. none of them are now sick but all in a state of convalessence with keen appetites and nothing to eat except lean Elk meat. late this evening Drewyer arrived with a most acceptable supply of fat Sturgeon, fresh Anchovies and a bag containing about a bushel of Wappetoe. we feasted on Anchovies and Wappetoe.
The Cock of the Plains is found in the plains of Columbia and are in Great abundance from the entrance of the S. E. fork of the Columbia to that of Clark's river. this bird is about 2/3rds the size of a turkey. the beak is large short curved and convex. the upper exceeding the lower chap. the nostrils are large and the beak black. the colour is an uniform mixture of dark brown reather bordeing on a dove colour, redish and yellowish brown with some small black specks. in this mixture the dark brown prevails and has a slight cast of the dove colour at a little distance. the wider side of the large feathers of the wings are of a dark brown only. the tail is composed of 19 feathers of which that in the center is the longest, and the remaining 9 on each side deminish by pairs as they receede from the center; that is any one feather is equal in length to one equa distant from the center of the tail on the oposite side. the tail when foalded comes to a very sharp point and appears long in proportion to the body. in the act of flying the tail resembles that of a wild pigeon. tho the motion of the wings is much that of the pheasant and Grouse. they have four toes on each foot of which the hinder one is short. the leg is covered with feathers about half the distance between the knee and foot. when the wing is expanded there are wide opening between it's feathers the plumeage being so narrow that it dose not extend from one quill to the other. the wings are also proportionably short, reather more so than those of the pheasant or grouse. the habits of this bird are much the same as those of the grouse. only that the food of this fowl is almost entirely that of the leaf and buds of the pulpy leafed thorn; nor do I ever recollect seeing this bird but in the neighbourhood of that shrub. they sometimes feed on the prickley pear. the gizzard of it is large and much less compressed and muscular than in most fowls; in short it resembles a maw quite as much as a gizzard. when they fly they make a cackling noise something like the dunghill fowl. the following is a likeness of the head and beak. the flesh of the cock of the Plains is dark, and only tolerable in point of flavor. I do not think it as good as either the Pheasant or Grouse.- it is invariably found in the plains.The feathers about it's head are pointed and stif some hairs about the base of the beak. feathers short fine and stif about the ears.
Sunday March 2nd 1806
The diet of the Sick is So inferior that they recover their Strength but Slowly. none of them are now Sick but all in a State of Covelessence with keen appetites and nothing to eate except lean Elk meat.
The nativs of this neighbourhood eate the root of the Cattail or Cooper's flag. it is pleasantly tasted and appears to be very nutrecious. the inner part of the root which is eaten without any previous preperation is Composed of a number of capellary white flexable Strong fibers among which is a mealy or Starch like Substance which readily disolves in the mouth and Seperates from the fibers which are then rejected. it appears to me that this Substance would make excellent Starch; nothing Can be of a pureer white than it is
This evening late Drewyer, Crusat & Wiser returned with a most acceptable Supply of fat Sturgen, fresh anchoves and a bag Containing about a bushel of Wappato. we feasted on the Anchovies and wappatoe.-.
The Heath Cock or cock of the Plains is found in the Plains of Columbia and are in great abundance from the enterance of Lewis's river to the mountains which pass the Columbia between the Great falls and Rapids of that river. this fowl is about 3/4ths the Size of a turkey. the beak is large Short Curved and convex. the upper exceeding the lower chap. the nostrils are large and the back black. the Colour is a uniform mixture of dark brown reather bordering on a dove colour, redish and yellowish brown with Some Small black Specks. in this mixture the dark brown provails and has a Slight cast of the dove colour at a little distance. the wider side of the larger feathers of the wings are of a dark brown only. the tail is composed of 19 feathers of which that in the center is the longest, and the remaining 9 on each Side deminish by pairs as they receede from the Center; that is any one feather is equal in length to one of an equal distance from the Center of the tail on the opposit Side. the tail when folded Comes to a very Sharp point and appears long in perpotion to the body in the act of flying the tail resembles that of a wild pigeon. tho the motion of the wings is much that of the Pheasant and Grouse. they have four toes on each foot of which the hinder one is Short. the leg is covered with feathers about half the distance between the knee and foot. when the wings is expanded there are wide opening between it's feathers, the plumage being So narrow that it does not extend from one quill to another. the wings are also propotionably Short, reather more So than those of the Pheasant or Grouse. the habits of this bird is much the Same as those of the Prarie hen or Grouse. only that the food of this fowl is almost entirely that of the leaf and buds of the pulpy leafed thorn, nor do I ever recollect Seeing this bird but in the neighbourhood of that Shrub. The gizzard of it is large and much less compressed and muscular than in most fowls, in Short it resembles a maw quite as much as a gizzard. When they fly they make a cackling noise Something like the dunghill fowl. the flesh of this fowl is dark and only tolerable in point of flavour. I do not think it as good as wth the Pheasant or Prarie hen, or Grouse. the feathers above it's head are pointed and Stiff Some hairs about the base of the beak. feathers Short fine and Stiff about the ears, and eye. This is a faint likeness of the Cock of the plains or Heath Cock the first of those fowls which we met with was on the Missouri below and in the neighbourhood of the Rocky Mountains and from to the mountain which passes the Columbia between the Great falls and Rapids they go in large gangues or Singularly and hide remarkably close when pursued, make Short flights, &c.
The large Black & White Pheasant is peculiar to that portion of the Rocky Mountains watered by the Columbia River. at least we did not See them untill we reached the waters of that river, nor Since we have left those mountains. they are about the Size of a well grown hen. the contour of the bird is much that of the redish brown Pheasant common to our country. the tail is proportionably as long and is composed of 18 feathers of equal length, of a uniform dark brown tiped with black. the feathers of the body are of a dark brown black and white. the black is that which most prodomonates, and white feathers are irregularly intermixed with those of the black and dark brown on every part but in greater perpotion about the neck breast and belly. this mixture gives it very much the appearance of that kind of dunghill fowl, which the henwives of our Countrey Call dommanicker. in the brest of Some of those birds the white prodominates most. they are not furnished with tufts of long feathers on the neck as other Pheasants are, but have a Space on each Side of the neck about 21/2 inches long and one inch in width on which no feathers grow, tho it is consealed by the feathers which are inserted on the hinder and front part of the neck, this Space Seams to Serve them to dilate or contract the feathers of the neck with more ease. the eye is dark, the beak black, uncovered Somewhat pointed and the upper exceeds the under chap. they have a narrow Strip of vermillion colour above each eye which consists of a fleshey Substance not protuberant but uneaven, with a number of minute rounded dots. it has four toes on each foot of which three are in front, it is booted to the toes. it feeds on wild fruits, particularly the berry of the Sac-a-com-mis, and much also on the Seed of the pine & fir. this fowl is usially found in Small numbers two and three & 4 together on the ground. when Supprised flies up & lights on a tree and is easily Shot their flesh is Superior to most of the Pheasant Species which we have met with. they have a gizzard as other Pheasants &c. feed also on the buds of the Small Huckleberry bushes