12 April 2012

Ornithology of Government Expedition of 1819-1820

The 1819-1820 western expedition beyond the "Father of Rivers" and the pioneer town of St. Louis, had been officially directed to explore waters of the Missouri River, its tributaries and territory further westward on the Great Plains. This government expedition went forth into what was a basically unknown region of the U.S.A.

It was a grand endeavor, with the journey of the steamboat Western Engineer begining at Pittsburgh in the spring of 1819. Once set afloat, it easily floated down the Ohio River to its confluence with the mighty Mississippi River. Engine-power moved it up the "Father of Rivers" to a prominent St. Louis, on the edge of the western frontier. After a few days at a dock, the boat and passengers steamed under power up the ceaseless flow of the Missouri River.

Eventually the government force reached a season's end to their travels at the Engineer Cantonment, Camp Missouri and Council Bluffs, according to the different place names. The locale was their winter quarters, as sheltered by the bluffs of the Missouri River, on the eastern boundary of the Nebraska Territory. A fort was being established.

After a difficult winter sojourn, and weeks of spring and early summer, the expedition continued in early summer of 1820 to travel further and explore. Their first destination was westward to the Loup Fork, then along the Platte River to eastern Colorado, southward through a portion of New Mexico, and eastward through Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma. Finally the military men went across Arkansas on their return to the settled east. The final place of significance was once again St. Louis, where the journey ended.

There is a vivid record of history associated with this expedition. There was a relative multitude of reports of pertinent activities at particular places, by expedition participants, in news reports.

Details are especially evident in the vivid prose of various narratives issued at one time or another subsequent to the actual travels. Journals especially convey specifics of sights seen, a day's activities, places visited, troubles of one sort or another, and many other events associated with a large party of men traveling across an unknown territory. There are also interpretive articles written in latter years - decades later - which discuss particular topics such as birds, artistic accomplishments, and the overall biotic value implicit in the observations presented in notes from the expedition.

A focused evaluation of the fine variety of pertinent sources in order to document the bird history, indicated that none of them -- individually -- conveyed a complete and accurate tally for the species of birds observed during the expedition, which included particulars noted by preeminent naturalists Thomas Say, the zoologist, and Titian Ramsay Peale, assistant naturalist and secondary artist.

Each article or book source had a particular focus, which varied in purpose, and didn't convey a complete perspective or presentation of details for the birds noted at the different places visited. There was only a partial consideration.

To present a view of the specific bird species and records of their occurrence, a number of book and newspaper sources were reviewed to extract notes on species observed, date of occurrence if available, and particular locality. Each record was documented with associated metadata including modern-era state and county, along with the source citation(s). Each observation was entered into a relational database to facilitate further evaluation and comparison.

Particular sources considered include:

1) Several newspaper articles or letters reporting on the expedition, their travels, and especially prominent, their arrival at one spot upon the western edge of the Missouri River valley. The place was known as the Council Bluff, Engineer Cantonment, or Camp Missouri, and a vicinity which was eventually recognized as Fort Atkinson; an additional significant site presented in these reports was Cantonment, Cow Island, down the river
2) The Edwin James account, as originally published in 1823, then again in 1905 by Reuben Gold Thwaites in four volumes; a latter version, published as James 1972, was also reviewed, as there were differences in the narratives; this review also included a third version of the journals (Benson 1988). This journal was reissued in its original format in 2009.

3) The journal of Captain John R. Bell, the "official journalist" for the expedition.

4) The abbreviated journal of Titian Ramsey Peale for the portion of the expedition from Pittsburgh to Fort Osage, with a few cursory notes from later in the expedition.

5) Articles about the Peale sketches (Murphy 1957) and a brief anniversary perspective on bird observations (Osterhout 1920), as well as a review of details for the Peale sketches available at the website of the American Philosophical Society. The artwork illustrates species that can be identified, though they were not originally designated to a particular species.

6) A general evaluation of the entire natural history for the expedition (Evans 1997); which includes important references to observations made by Thomas Say.

7) A recent journal article conveying the seminal scientific value of the natural history inventory resulting from the lengthy stay at the Engineer Cantonment (Genoways and Radcliff 2008).

Although the ornithological value of each source differed, it is the entire selection which has the information essential for an overall evaluation of the bird records.

Starting the Voyage

Early in the May, 1819, the newly constructed steamboat Western Engineer departed from Pittsburgh. There had been a delay from the original date of March 26 due to inoperative parts of the steam engine, according a late-June letter from a gentleman on the boat (August 5, 1819; Alexandria Gazette 19(5567): 2).

A note about the expedition and its force of men was written early in July, though actually published about a month later. A tally of the officers of the Sixth Regiment attached to the military expedition to the upper Missouri was listed in detail by the newspaper. Col. Atkinson was listed first, followed by many lieutenants, captains, majors and many others.

"The officers attached to the expedition are young men of the growth of the last war, distinguished for their professional character and gentlemanly deportment, and animated with all the zeal for the success of the enterprise which the interest of the country, and the honour of the administration which planned it, could require at their hands." -- August 14, 1819; The American 1(48): 1. From the Missouri Enquirer).

July 9th, the Western Engineer reached St. Louis, at the edge of the western frontier. "She" anchored at the upper end of town, to lay over for a few days. The St. Louis Enquirer provided a news report presenting a vivid description of the boat and the men onboard:

"A description of this beautiful little boat has been given to the public. We remark, however, some further particulars which deserve to be noticed. The bow of the vessel exhibits the form of a huge serpent, black and scaly, rising out of the water from under the boat, his head as high as the deck, darted forward, his mouth open, vomiting smoke, and apparently carrying the boat on his back. From under the boat, at its stern, issues a stream of foaming water, dashing violently along. All the machinery is hid. Three small brass field pieces, mounted on wheel carriages, stand on the deck. The boat is ascending the rapid stream at the rate of three miles per hour. Neither wind or human hands are seen to help her; and, to the eye of the ignorance, the illusion is complete, that a monster of the deep carries her on his back, smoking with fatigue, and lashing the waves with violent exertions."
"Her equipment is at once calculated to attract and to awe the savage. Objects pleasing and terrifying are at once before him: -- artillery; the flag of the republic; portraits of a white man and an Indian shaking hands; the calumet of piece; a sword; then the apparent monster with a painted vessel on his back, the sides gaping with port holes, and bristling with guns. Taken altogether, and without intelligence of her composition and design, it would require a daring savage to approach and accost her... " -- July 19, 1819; Alexandria Gazette 19(5592): 2.

Another correspondent presented one more perspective of the expedition at this time in early summer. He wrote a letter to the newspaper, which was published in wonderful detail which conveyed specifics for the voyage of the steamboat as it left the east and floated onward to the western frontier.

Specifics of interest include a detail that the boat party arrived at Louisville on May 19; they entered the Mississippi on Sunday the 30th of May; the tribal residents knew it as the Missachipi, or "Father of Rivers" which was appropriate for this mighty flow of riverine waters.

This letter was the first to indicate some particulars about birds denoted during the expedition. One paragraph in the news story said:

"On the Mississippi game is plenty; we saw deer, turkeys, swan, geese and pelicans, but have not found a new bird."

As the Western Engineer steamed up the Missouri, particulars were given by the newspapers. The specifics are most interesting, but some few details might suffice:

  1. steamboat Western Engineer arrived on 14th July, and left on the 19th
  2. the boat left St. Charles on June 25th and arrived at Franklin on 15 days
  3. arrived at Fort Osage on August 16; everything was in good order

With the expeditionary force moving along, several prominent members decided to get off the boat and travel overland. Once again, a newspaper account provides the details of historic importance.

"Messrs. Say, Jessup, Peale, Seymour, Biddle and Swift, accompanied by Mr. Dougherty, assistant Indian agent and interpreter, left the boat at Fort Osagem and proceded by land to visit the Kansas Indians, and from thence to the Pawnees, and will join the Engineers at the Council Bluffs. This mode of progressing will enable the naturalists to explore the country leisurely, and obtain a correct and general knowledge of it. Majors Long and O'Fallon, and Lt. Graham proceeded in the Engineer." -- October 9, 1819; Boston Patriot and Daily Chronicle 5(728): 2.

An officer in the U.S. Services expressed his perspective in a September 4 letter issued from "Cantonment, Cow Island" which was published a month later (October 27, 1819; National Messenger 2(139): 3). The primary portion of the expedition left Martin Cantonment on Cow Island on September 20, 1819. The prominent newsworthy item regarded an Indian attack upon a group of explorers.

"We regret to learn, that the party of naturalists, consisting of Messrs. Say, Jessup, Peale, Seymour, Biddle and Swift, with Mr. Daugherty, Indian agent and interpretor, who left Fort Osage a few days previous in the Engineer's departure, with the intention of proceeding by land to the Council Bluffs, while encamped, on the 18th of August, were visited by a party of Pawnee and Otto Indians who appeared friendly at first, but soon commenced plundering, taking from them their horses, provisions and every article excepting the clothing they had on, abstaining however from any violence in their persons, and in this fashion left them."

The visitors wandered for a few days until being "relieved" by a band of Kansas Indians, and subsequently rejoined with the main group of the expedition.

Another letter was sent from the Council Bluff frontier, dated October 1919. It indicted a wonderful perspective for the edge of a frontier moving westward. The details are most interesting. Their date of arrival was indicated as October 14th, with the military force creating a presence at Fort Atkinson and the Engineer Cantonment, down the river a few miles.

In mid-November, a letter written a military officer, expressed a specific perspective for recent events at Camp Missouri. The news article presented the situation at the post being established by the government forces.

The unknown officer of the Sixth Regiment expressed his perspective which also has birdly importance. The troops had arrived at the Council Bluff, a.k.a. Camp Missouri on October 2nd. The gentleman not only conveyed interesting and specific particulars for the Council Bluff, but within the words, there were the vivid details of two game dinners given by the officers.

"Two great dinners have been given since we arrived here; one by Col. Atkinson to the officers of the two regiments; the other was given in return by the two regiments at which we had turkeys, wild geese, brant, grouse, partridges, ducks of every description, fresh beef and venison -- but no vegetables." -- February 9, 1820; Republican Compiler 2(22): 2.

The military men were on the edge of the frontier, but still had a regular connection to eastern places through mail services. Once a month, an express took communications from the post to St. Louis, according to late November letter from the Council Bluff, as indicated in a latter January news item in the Baltimore Patriot.

A December letter by a "gentleman" expressed that his perspective of the country:/p>

"The river is muddy, crooked, shallow, and rapid; its course is through a valley of from five to ten miles broad, of very rich land; but as soon as you leave the valley, the ground is rolling, and mostly prairies, and the proportion of prairie increases as you ascend. In this vicinity, the bluffs have scarcely a tree, and the valley is principally prairie. It is truly an interesting sight to ascend some of the highest hills in the prairie and view the surrounding country. The eye wanders over thousands of acres of ground with scarcely a tree to relieve it.
This country must long remain an asylum for the Red-skins, and the wild beasts. Whites cannot inhabit it until their habits, or the country is changed." ... -- April 20, 1820; New-York Daily Advertiser 930: 2.

Subsequent articles related additional pertinent details of relative importance.

Based upon a May 14, 1820 mail item from Franlin, Missouri, Major Long, Dr. James and Captain Bell had arrived there a few days earlier. They were making their way to the Council Bluff and indicated that forthcoming was an exploration of the "La Platte by land, then cross over to the head waters on the Arkansas..." according to a item derived from the late mails as issued in the Norwich Courier on June 28, 1820.

The "meterologic register" kept by General Atkinson noted that during January, 1820 the temperatures were frigid. The mean temperature, based upon 93 observations was 12.45 degrees, with 27 observations from "ten to twenty-two degrees below zero." -- J.M. June 24, 1820; Daily National Intelligencer 8(2325): 2.

The western exploration started on June 6th, heading first to the Pawnee villages at a fork of "La Platte" about 120 miles distant across rolling prairie country.

According to details conveyed in a letter scribed June 24th, the troops at the Fort were healthy, and prospects were good. The "great and universal rise of the Missouri has driven us from our winter position. Almost the whole of the bottom lands are inundated," the author noted. "The flood is greater than is recollected by the oldest Indians, ... The Platte is also in flood." At the time, the cantonment was being moved to the summit of the bluffs. The earliest gardens planted were "deluged" though further gardens "exhibit the most promising appearance." -- August 21, 1820; Evening Post 5669: 2.

The chronicles associated with the scientific discovery suffered a loss during the latter months of 1820. Three men -- Mordecai Nowland, Peter Bernard and Charles Myers -- deserted, and took with them rifles and horses, along with four "saddle bags, belonging to Captain Bell, Dr. Say, Lieut. Swift, and Mr. Seymour, containing wearing apparel, some specie, a box sextant, a manuscript book on topography, one a journal, one on zoology, one on Indian manners and customes, and two containing vocabularies on Indian languages." -- December 2, 1820; The American 1(231): 3, issued at New York.

It was a loss that was undoubtedly reflected in a lesser amount of scientific details derived by the scientists.

Journal Documentation

The original journals obviously provide the details needed to initiate the list, but it was later interpretations which give further additional and very helpful annotations. Especially important are modern interpretations which provide accurate locations of where the expedition was on particular days (Fuller and Hafen 1957, James 1972) and maps showing the route followed (Goodman and Lawson 1995).

The original James narrative was important as the basis for determining bird sightings, though this source had to be compared to the original narrative. One entry for a particular date indicates how the revised edition issued later did not include one of the species mentioned in the original source, specifically for July 13, 1820:

"In the timber along the creek, the sparrow-hawk, mocking-bird, robin, red-head woodpecker, Lewis' woodpecker, dove, winter wren, towhe, bunting, yellow-breasted chat and several other birds were seen."

The Benson (1988) version did not include the Lewis' woodpecker, and cited the "towhe, bunting" as "towhe bunting," with the comma not included, a situation sufficient enough to indicate a single species, instead of two.

In the review of the natural history (Evans 1997), wren was mentioned rather than the winter wren in particular, with no mention of a bunting. There was no particular mention given for the Pine Warbler noted on August 23, 1820, by the Say party of the expedition, with warblers given in the summary, even though this was the only time this species was mentioned in the entire narrative.

This condensed version does provide further annotations on localities and some interpretations of species identification which were helpful. Nearly the entire route was discussed, with the history starting with the departure of the steamboat Western Engineer from Pittsburgh on May 3, 1819. Although there is trivial journal information for prior to Pittsburgh, there is a bit related to two types of birds seen on the Allegheny ridge, prior to the arrival there, according to the Peale journal.

This interpreted history can be vague on particulars for dates when something was observed, so the original sources usually needed to be relied upon for this essential detail. In a few cases, when particulars on a species are given in the source journal, this may be just a few summary words in this book about the over natural history. There was also no overall summary of birds observed given, except for a list of the newly described and named birds, given in an appendix. One other trivial point, only the first article for the Peale journal is given in the bibliography, with part two not reference, though portions of the article are obviously used within the book.

Engineer Cantonment and Council Bluff

The journal article on the biodiversity value derived while at the Engineer Cantonment (Genoways and Ratcliffe 2008), has been considered in detail, with has meant some revisions. This report includes couple of misidentified species, instances where species were not identified though historic sources provide clues sufficient details to allow a suitable identification, and additional, pertinent details which were not considered.

The following are different particulars to consider for the list of species from this territorial locality.

Anas (Anser) bernicla?, barnacle goose - the common name in this article was listed as Brant, with the authors mentioning that this could be an erroneous report.

A viable option which could possibly be more accurate is Anas bernicla, which could equal Anas hutchinsii, a synonym for Cackling Goose, as given in Elliott Coues' "Birds of the Northwest," issued in 1874.

Muscicapa novaboracensis, was listed with the common name of White-eyed Vireo, along with Muscicapa cantatrix, thus grouping two distinct names for one species.

The original list of birds for the Engineer Cantonment cites "Muscicapa novaboracensis, Gm. - Green black-capt fly-catcher, Wilson." (Thwaites 1905). The green black-capped flycatcher is an alternate common name for the Wilson's Warbler, a species which would have readily occurred in the spring in the woody habitats near the expedition quarters.

In the biodiversity article, there is no modern equivalent given for "Turdus fuscus," with the original bird list including a common name of "Brown thrush."

This scientific name is attributed to the Olive-backed Thrush in the "Birds of the Colorado Valley" by Coues; also to Turdus swainsonii in the 1858 edition of U.S. Pacific Rail Road Report of Explorations and Surveys. This is the Swainson's Thrush, another seasonal migrant within in the area.

The identification of tanagers in the biodiversity article is not correct.

The article identifies "Tanagra rubra" as the Summer Tanager. This is despite the original bird list entry which is "Tanagra rubra - Scarlet tanager." The scientific name matches many other published sources which indicate this is properly the Scarlet Tanager.

For "Tanagra Ludoviciani," the 2008 article correlates this to the Scarlet Tanager. The original entry is "Tanagra Ludoviciani, Wils. - Louisiana tanager." Based on numerous sources of tanager records for the period prior to 1880, from throughout the United States, the scientific name Tanagra ludoviciana refers to the Western Tanager.

An additional species can be added to the species list for this locality based upon a Peale sketch (APSimg5665). A "sparrow" sketched in March, 1820 at the cantonment is depicted partially in color, but otherwise showing just the general body shape. Particular items shown in color are the bill, head stripes and coloration, a rufous patch on the shoulder near the upper wing and a distinct, isolated spot on the chest. These aspects all match key features of the American Tree Sparrow, which would certainly have occurred in the area during latter winter.

Another Peale sketch dated February, 1820, and drawn while at the cantonment, is a "Young bison bull" which includes magpies feeding on the carcass of the dead animal. This date could have been included in the "Arrival Dates and Comments" listing of Appendix 5 in this paper.

Another sketch dated May 5, 1820, also done at the cantonment, shows an unidentified sandpiper (APSimg5672), with an annotation "Pelidna pectoralis," so it would refer to the Pectoral Sandpiper. A band across the chest of the bird, could indicate a line of coloration which occurs on this shore bird. This sketch provides an actual date of occurrence, which is not given with the comments for this species in the article. It should be noted that the bird in the sketch has black legs and a completely black bill, whereas this species does have yellow legs and a mostly black bill.

There are some additional notes on bird migration which were included in the meteorological register kept at encampment. A few times the remarks include some tidbits on bird migration:

February 23: "Geese flying northward"
February 24: "Geese passing northwardly"
February 25: "Ducks passing down river"
March 10: "No geese, few ducks flying"
March 18: "River open. Geese, swans, ducks, &c. flying up"
March 21: "Geese, &c. flying up"
April 2: "Geese, &c. flying S. to-day"
April 10: "Geese flying N. Strong wind"

These further bits of detail are a portion of the natural history which indicates bird movement, and contributes an additional date of occurrence for the swans.

There was also no mention in the biodiversity article the cultural aspects of local birds as shown by bird-effigy garments which the Indians were wearing during visits to the military cantonment. There were two pertinent notations:

1) October 3, 1819: large cushion, made of the skin of a crow, stuffed with light material, and variously ornamented.
2) November 15, 1819: Sioux decorate their hair with a profusion of feathers of the war eagle, and of a species of owl; also suspend in the head dress the entire skin of the paroquet.

These comments indicate the significant role of colorful feathers/skins of local birds in tribal life and ceremonial events.

Overall, this analysis records 145 species for the Engineer Cantonment and Council Bluff locality, which compares to 142 listed in the biodiversity article, with a different combination of species.

Additional Species Drawn by Peale

Several Peale sketches drawn at different times during expedition, depict additional unidentified birds.

An ink drawing thought to be a pigeon or dove (APSimg5692) dated to 1820, is obviously the Band-tailed Pigeon. The bill color is a precise match. There is the reddish color around the eye which is a common feature, and the whitish collar and ruffled pattern of the feathers on the back of the neck are basically similar - though not in color - in the drawing of this species.

Another example, rendered on July 17, 1820 - when in southeast Colorado along the Arkansas River - shows a thrasher-like bird with a long decurved bill (APSimg5680), which matches well with the characteristic bill of the Curve-billed Thrasher, with a known, modern range in the area. The body shape is also similar, though the tail is shown shorter than for this species. It is very likely that the "mockingbird" mentioned in the journals for July 13, actually referred to a thrasher, and it seems plausible that this would be this species that was historically designated as unidentified.

This species was not scientifically classified until 1827.

This same sketch includes another unidentified bird, which has features like a bunting, and could be the Lazuli Bunting that was mentioned in the journals, also on July 13, 1820.

A second sketch made in the same vicinity on 14 July 1820 can also be attributed. The black-and-white and ink drawing (APSimg5678) shows a larger bird in profile and from the rear perched on the side of a tree. It is obviously a woodpecker, based on the way in which it is shown, as well as by the two claws forward, and two backwards on the feet. The bill shape and size, as well as the general feather features and vague patterns indicated match features of the Lewis's Woodpecker, which was first noted here in the expedition narratives. A Red-headed Woodpecker was also reported on the same date, but features do not match this species, and it would be less likely for Peale to sketch a bird he was obviously familiar with from points back east, than to depict something newly observed.

In a faint ink drawing from August 24, 1820 an unidentified bird is once again depicted. This image (APSimg5687) is very similar to another drawing (APSimg2047) which includes a color rendition of a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher.

With this watercolor sketch of the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher (APSimg2047) dated to 1820, is a second type of bird, which was not identified.

This bird has several notable features, starting with the short feathers at the base of the bill typical to birds which capture insects such as flycatchers and nightjars. The bill appears to be flattish, a characteristic of a flycatcher. The plumage is shown in three colors, darker gray on the head, and a slighter shade for the wings and back and on the upper chest, with a reddish tinge on the lower belly and rump. The tail is black. The legs are also shown in black.

Overall, these features conform to characteristics of an adult Say's Phoebe, as the general body shape is very similar though not a precise match. The bill of the bird in the sketch is also shown longer than those of living birds.

If the second bird was sketched at the same time as the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, this would have been later in August - based on occurrence records recorded for this species - when a party of the expedition was in western Oklahoma. This would be within the range of the Say's Phoebe, based its modern distribution, adding to the plausibility of the identification.

There aren't particular notes in the expedition narratives that could refer to this specific species. However, on August 25, 1820 while in western Oklahoma, there is a mention of the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, with additional text mentioning "other birds" with no further details. It is very possible that this is when Peale sketched both of these flycatchers.

The Say's Phoebe was not identified as a species until 1825.

Expedition Avifauna

There are around 450 records available overall from the various expedition sources with bird observations. About 336 are attributable to a particular date. There are 172 distinct species represented (or 173 if a Say's Phoebe was actually observed and sketched), which does not include generic references such as duck, geese, gull, hawk, heron, owl, sandpiper, or other identifications which were not to a particular species, or could not be identified based on given characteristics or as visually depicted. The overall tally of records does include culturally related information such as bird effigy material and bird-motif garments.

Common Name - Number of Records
• Greater White-fronted Goose - 1 record
• Snow Goose - 1
• Cackling Goose - 3
• Canada Goose - 10
• Trumpeter Swan - 7
• Wood Duck - 5
• American Wigeon - 1
• Mallard - 1
• Blue-winged Teal - 1
• Northern Pintail - 1
• Lesser Scaup - 1
• Long-tailed Duck - 1
• Bufflehead - 2
• Common Goldeneye - 1
• Hooded Merganser - 1
• Common Merganser - 1
• Ruffed Grouse - 1
• Dusky Grouse* - 1
• Sharp-tailed Grouse - 1
• Greater Prairie-Chicken - 4
• Lesser Prairie-Chicken - 2
• Wild Turkey - 40
• Domestic Chicken - 2
• Northern Bobwhite - 6
• Common Loon - 1
• Eared Grebe - 1
• American White Pelican - 8
• Brown Pelican - 1
• Double-crested Cormorant - 2
• Great Blue Heron - 1
• Great Egret - 2
• Snowy Egret - 2
• Green Heron - 2
• Black-crowned Night-Heron - 2
• Black Vulture - 2
• Turkey Vulture - 10
• Osprey - 3
• Swallow-tailed Kite - 1
• Mississippi Kite - 3
• Bald Eagle - 4
• Northern Harrier - 1
• Sharp-shinned Hawk - 1
• Red-shouldered Hawk - 2
• Broad-winged Hawk - 1
• Red-tailed Hawk - 1
• Rough-legged Hawk - 1
• Golden Eagle - 1
• American Kestrel - 2
• American Coot - 1
• Sandhill Crane - 9
• Whooping Crane - 1
• American Golden-Plover - 1
• Killdeer - 2
• American Avocet - 2
• Spotted Sandpiper - 1
• Solitary Sandpiper - 2
• Greater Yellowlegs - 2
• Willet - 1
• Lesser Yellowlegs - 2
• Upland Sandpiper - 3
• Long-billed Curlew - 4
• Marbled Godwit - 2
• Semipalmated Sandpiper - 2
• Least Sandpiper - 1
• White-rumped Sandpiper - 1
• Pectoral Sandpiper* - 3
• Long-billed Dowitcher* - 1
• American Woodcock - 1
• Franklin's Gull - 2
• Least Tern - 7
• Black Tern - 1
• Band-tailed Pigeon* - 1
• Mourning Dove - 4
• Passenger Pigeon - 1
• Carolina Parakeet - 16
• Eastern Screech-owl - 2
• Great Horned Owl - 3
• Northern Hawk Owl - 1
• Burrowing Owl - 5
• Barred Owl - 1
• Long-eared Owl - 1
• Northern Saw-whet Owl - 1
• Common Nighthawk - 2
• Chuck-will's-Widow - 3
• Whip-poor-will - 2
• Chimney Swift - 3
• Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 2

• Belted Kingfisher - 4
• Lewis's Woodpecker - 1
• Red-headed Woodpecker - 3
• Red-bellied Woodpecker - 1
• Downy Woodpecker - 1
• Hairy Woodpecker - 1
• Northern Flicker - 1
• Pileated Woodpecker - 4
• Ivory-billed Woodpecker - 1
• Eastern Phoebe - 1
• Great Crested Flycatcher - 2
• Western Kingbird* - 2
• Eastern Kingbird - 1
• Scissor-tailed Flycatcher - 2
• Northern Shrike - 1
• White-eyed Vireo - 1
• Red-eyed Vireo - 2
• Blue Jay - 3
• Black-billed Magpie - 5
• American Crow - 3
• Common Raven - 4
• Horned Lark - 2
• Purple Martin - 3
• Bank Swallow - 4
• Cliff Swallow* - 2
• Barn Swallow - 3
• Black-capped Chickadee - 1
• Red-breasted Nuthatch - 1
• White-breasted Nuthatch - 1
• Rock Wren* - 2
• Carolina Wren - 2
• Winter Wren - 2
• Marsh Wren - 1
• Eastern Bluebird - 1
• Swainson's Thrush - 2
• Wood Thrush - 2
• American Robin - 5
• Gray Catbird - 2
• Northern Mockingbird - 2; includes a couple of references to a mockingbird, where it was more likely a thrasher, especially once on the plains of New Mexico
• Brown Thrasher - 4
• Curve-billed Thrasher - 2
• American Pipit - 1
• Cedar Waxwing - 1
• Blue-winged Warbler - 1
• Orange-crowned Warbler* - 1
• Northern Parula - 1
• Yellow Warbler - 1
• Pine Warbler - 1
• Blackpoll Warbler - 1
• Cerulean Warbler* - 1
• American Redstart - 2
• Ovenbird - 1
• Northern Waterthrush - 1
• Wilson's Warbler - 2
• Canada Warbler - 1
• Yellow-breasted Chat - 5
• Summer Tanager - 1
• Scarlet Tanager - 3
• Western Tanager - 1
• Spotted Towhee - 1
• Eastern Towhee - 1
• American Tree Sparrow - 1
• Chipping Sparrow - 1
• Lark Sparrow* - 1
• Song Sparrow - 1
• Dark-eyed Junco - 1
• Northern Cardinal - 3
• Rose-breasted Grosbeak - 4
• Lazuli Bunting* - 2
• Dickcissel - 1
• Bobolink - 2
• Red-winged Blackbird - 1
• Eastern Meadowlark - 2
• Yellow-headed Blackbird - 1
• Common Grackle - 1
• Brown-headed Cowbird - 4
• Orchard Oriole - 1
• Baltimore Oriole - 3
• Pine Grosbeak - 1
• Purple Finch - 1
• House Finch* - 1
• Red Crossbill - 1
• Common Redpoll - 1
• Lesser Goldfinch* - 1
• American Goldfinch - 1

Items marked with an asterisk (*) are the newly described species discovered by the men during their expeditionary travels.

Records are available from Arkansas (one record), Colorado (36 records), Illinois (22), Iowa (4), Kansas (13), Kentucky (11), Missouri (50), Nebraska (185), New Mexico (11), Ohio (12), Oklahoma (55), Pennsylvania (27), and Texas (17 records).

This geographic distribution readily indicates the value of the expedition for indicating occurrence and distribution of numerous birds species at a time in history when such information was extremely limited for the western frontier.

Further consideration of these bird records might readily illustrate the biogeographic importance of the sightings, especially in comparison to the modern range for the different species.


Benson, Maxine, editor. 1988. From Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountains. Major Stephen Long's expedition 1819-1820. Fulcrum, Inc., Golden, Colorado. 410 pages.

Evans, Howard Ensign. 1997. The natural history of the Long Expedition to the Rocky Mountains 1819-1820. Oxford University Press, New York. 268 pages.

Fuller, Harlin M. and LeRoy R. Hafen. 1957. The journal of Captain John R. Bell, official journalist for the Stephen H. Long expedition to the Rocky Mountains, 1820. Arthur H. Clark Company, Glendale California. 349 pages.

Genoways, Hugh H. and Brett C. Ratcliffe. 2008. Engineer Cantonment, Missouri Territory, 1819-1820: America's first biodiversity inventory. Great Plains Research 18(1): 3-31. Appendix 5, birds collected and observed in the vicinity of Engineer Cantonment.

Goodman, George L. and Cheryl A. Lawson. 1995. Retracing Major Stephen H. Long's 1820 expedition. The itinerary and botany. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman. 366 pages. With maps of the expedition route.

James, Edwin. 1972. Account of an expedition from Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountains under the command of Major Stephen H. Long. Imprint Society, Barre, Massachusetts. 547 pages.

Murphy, Robert Cushman. 1957. The sketches of Titian Ramsay Peale (1799-1885). Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 101(6): 523-532. With several examples of Peale sketches.

Osterhout, G.E. 1920. Concerning the ornithology of the Long Expedition of 1820. Oologist 37: 118-120.

Thwaites, Reuben Gold. 1905. Early western travels 1748-1846: James' account of S. H. Long's expedition, 1819-20. Arthur H. Clark Company, Cleveland, Ohio. Volume 14, 321 pages, vol. 15, 356 pages; vol. 16, 291 pages, and vol. 17, 308 pages.

Weese, A.O., editor. 1947. The journal of Titian Ramsay Peale, pioneer naturalist. Missouri Historical Review 41(2): 147-163; continues, 41(3): 266-284.

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