Green Heron | American Bird Conservancy

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Nutcracker impressed leaders of Lewis and Clark expedition

Our Fine Feathered Friends

clarks-nutcracker-on-wall-3790703_1920 Photo by Mike Goad/Pixabay.com • A Clark’s nutcracker surveys its surroundings from a rocky outcrop. Both William Clark and Meriwether Lewis made detailed notes about their observations of this bird in what would become the western states of Idaho and Montana.

The United States and the world observed the 215th anniversary of the launch of the historic Lewis and Clark Expedition on May 14. Retrospectively, I cannot even begin to imagine what it would have been for a birder to have been a member of that expedition. Although Meriwether Lewis and William Clark would not have considered themselves birders in the modern sense, the entries in their journals testify that they had a thorough grasp of the avian life that surrounded them as they explored the American west.

Last week’s column focused on Lewis’s woodpecker, a bird named for Lewis. In addition to the woodpecker, a genus of plants known…

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Birds serve as muses to inspire poets to greater heights

Our Fine Feathered Friends

turtledove-1275164_1920 Photo by makamuki0/Pixabay.com • The turtledove has featured prominently in poems and other literature, including the holiday song “The 12 Days of Christmas.”

With May’s arrival, other migrating birds have made stops in my yard, providing some excitement to the daily routine. It’s easy to wax poetic about the birds around us. Indeed, poets have been incorporating birds into some of their best-known work for centuries.

The Bard himself penned a poem titled “The Phoenix and the Turtle.” While the phoenix is a mythical bird and not one actually found in nature, the “turtle” in the poem’s title refers to the well-known European turtledove. Even before Shakespeare glorified the turtledove in his poetry, this small dove had already been entangled with myth and legend stretching back to Ancient Greece and Rome. For instance, the turtledove was considered by the Greeks as sacred to Demeter, the goddess of the harvest. Romans…

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Woodpecker still bears name of historic expedition’s charismatic leader

Our Fine Feathered Friends

natdiglib_28237_extralarge The Lewis’s woodpecker’s common and scientific names pay tribute to the famed explorer Meriwether Lewis, who with his partner, William Clark, explored the American West.

The 215th anniversary of the launch of the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition will be observed May 14. Also known as the Corps of Discovery Expedition, the enterprise became the first American expedition to cross the western portion of the United States and explore the recently acquired lands known collectively as the Louisiana Purchase. The Lewis and Clark expedition officially extended from May 14, 1804, to Sept. 23, 1806. As they drove deep into the American West, the members of the expedition saw wonders, including the feathered variety, never before beheld by people outside of various Native American tribes.

In authorizing the expedition, President Thomas Jefferson wanted to establish a reliable route for travel through the western half of the nation and to fend off…

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