From: Histoire Naturelle des Perroquets
(Natural History of Parrots) 1794-1805
by Francois Le Vaillant
Average size; tail length approximately that of the body in the male, shorter in the female; bill yellowish- white, cheeks and forehead reddish-orange; head, upper neck and
under wing edges yellow; plumage yellowish-green; feet greyish-white.
Perriche a tête jaune; BUFFON, sous le nom de Perruche de la Caroline.
Psittace carolinensis; Brisson. Iem;
LINN. Syst. nat. ed. X.
THIS species, which is very common in Guiana (?), travels extensively, as far as Carolina and Virginia, where it arrives in innumerable flocks in autumn. Nonetheless, it is quite rare in our collections. Some twenty years ago I saw more than three hundred species, brought all together to Paris by a traveller who had gathered the most
considerable collection in northern America. The collection was composed of at least twelve thousand specimens of which, in some cases, up to six hundred belonged to one single species. However, few curious people took advantage of this collection, for it would appear to have been totally destroyed by gnawing insects.
Further evidence of the abundance of yellow-headed Parakeets in those countries it inhabits is the fact that I once saw over six thousand skinned heads, addressed to a feather dealer and destined to become frock adornments. Why, then, do so few specimens remain in private collections and why is there no single specimen in the Museum in Paris?
Moreover, few ornithologists have not mentioned this Parakeet, which is too easy to identify to make a mistake. The forehead, crown and the area around the eyes are all of an orange-red which gradually fades, becoming a beautiful jonquil-yellow on the occiput and the upper neck. The parts of the wing edges adjoining the body are also yellow, as
are the edges of the wing quill-feathers. The upper parts of the body, that is to say, the mantle, the entire wings, the back, rump and the upper side of the tail, are all more or less yellowish-green according to the age of the bird; the underside of the body is even more suffused with yellow. One notices a bluish tone on the tips of the wing feathers,
which have a brownish underside; their lesser coverts are green, their greater coverts brown. The eyes are yellow; the bill is yellowish-white and the feet are grey. I have already mentioned that this species is very well known from numerous published descriptions. The illustration given here presents accurately its colours, shape and proportions.
Therefore, we would think it superfluous to enter into any further lengthy details concerning the subject.
Amongst the numerous specimens of the yellow-headed Parakeet we have seen, the only differences we have noticed are that the green of the body appears more yellowish in some. Therefore, would the male differ from the female only in gender? My answer is that I, at least, have detected no difference other than the shorter tail of the female.
According to Catesby, these Parakeets feed upon seeds and the pips of fruits, particularly cypress seeds and apple pips, preferring the stones and pips of the fruit to the fruit itself, as do all Parrots in general. This author further states that these Parakeets sometimes nest in Carolina, which may appear to be quite extraordinary, as he ascertains their arrival in autumn when they have most likely already laid their eggs. Let us propose then, that if they do occasionally nest in that region, then they return in spring, after having departed so as to spend winter in some warmer climate and that, therefore, they visit Carolina twice in one year. It is at least probable that they do not spend the winter there, as Parrots in general fear cold weather.