from Missouri River Journals
[May 18th, 1843:]
[W]e saw Meadow Larks whose songs and single notes are quite different from those of the Eastern States; we have not yet been able to kill one to decide if new or not.
Audubon's journey up the Missouri had placed him in extreme southeast South Dakota when he wrote the sentence above. The famous artist and ornithologist eventually did determine that the Western Meadowlark was a "new" species, giving it the scientific name that it still bears, Sturnella neglecta. This species' vocal outburst, so different from the curt whistles of the Eastern Meadowlark, was enough to tell the difference, one might have hoped, but the habit of 19th-century naturalists was to verify with a gun. Indeed, Audubon's own gun-toting on behalf of science was self-proclaimed: "I call birds few when I shoot less than 100 per day" (qtd. in Joseph Kastner, A World of Watchers [Alfred A. Knopf, 1986], 70).