[Tweeters] Lewis & Clark's Montana Birds

Don McVay dmcvay at cmc.net
Sun Nov 4 11:58:34 PST 2007

Hi Tweets,
We recently acquired an interesting pamphlet written by Kenneth C.
Walcheck entitled "Montana's First Bird Inventory Through The Eyes Of
Lewis And Clark" published by the Lewis and Clark Interpretative
Association Inc. in 1999. The author documents the probable 59 species
of birds observed by Lewis and Clark with substantial data on their
geographic location. According to Montana Audubon, in October of 2007,
the state lists 421 species. Of the 59, six species were Montana Trail
discoveries that were new to science in 1805 and 1806. These six
are: Lesser (Cackling?) Canada Goose, Blue Grouse, Long-billed Curlew,
Lewis' Woodpecker, Pinyon Jay, and Western Meadowlark. The author
includes detailed notes from Lewis and Clark's journal entries about
each of these six species, as well as other interesting information and
maps about of their expedition in Montana..

 One of the difficulties in interpreting which species was described by
Lewis and Clark was the fact that they did not use Linnaeus' binomial
system of nomenclature and instead used "colloquial names with
intriguing spellings that appear to the reader as puzzling, amusing,
confusing or exasperating". "On his return trek through Montana (July
1,1806), Lewis supplemented his journal entry with notes about birds
observed in the Missoula area: the dove (mourning dove), the black
woodpecker (Lewis' Woodpecker, the lark woodpecker (Northern Flicker)".

 To illustrate the confusion trying to equate the common names, used
over 200 years ago by Lewis and Clark, with the common names used today
the author offers a matching quiz. If one thinks about the name that
they used and uses their own observations of these birds or a current
field guide most of the answers become apparent.

 Here is the quiz: Match the common names used by Lewis with the common
names used today.

Lewis and Clark’s common name:
_____A. Cock of the Mountain
_____B. Hen with pointed tail
_____C. Logcock
_____D. Leather-winged bat
_____E. Speckled pheasant
_____F. Calumet (Ceremonial pipes of the Shoshoni) bird
_____G. Bee Martin
_____H. Missouri Plover
_____I. Butterbox
_____J. Delicious 

Common names used today:
1. Common Nighthawk
2. Eastern Kingbird
3. Golden Eagle
4. Pileated Woodpecker
5. Canvasback
6. Greater Sage Grouse
7. Bufflehead
8. Sharp-tailed Grouse
9. American Avocet
10. Spruce Grouse

 If you take the quiz and want to check your answers we will post them
early next week

Don and Sandi McVay
dmcvay at cmc.net





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