CarolinaParakeetPearson

From Birds of America 1917

T. Gilbert Pearson, Editor-in-Chief


ORDER OF PARROT-LIKE BIRDS

Order Psitiaci; family Psittacide

THE order of Parrot-like birds (Psittaci) is characterized by a relatively short, hooked bill; feet with four toes, two forward and two backward, and perfectly adapted for grasping and climbing as well as for holding food when eating; tongue short, usually thick and fleshy, sometime with the tip brush-like or fringed; tail-feathers usually numbering twelve; secondaries acutely conical; and by various other anatomical peculiarities. They are noisy in wild state, their voices harsh and unmusical. Many of the species, but all, learn to speak in captivity. The typical Parrots occur throughout the tropical and most of the subtropical portions of both hemispheres. They are the only Parrot-like birds found in America or Africa. The species of typical Parrots are very numerous, more than five hundred and fifty being known, of which number, however, only one, the Carolina Paroquet, is a resident of the United States, and but one other, the Thick-billed Parrot, casually crosses the international boundary at the south.

Parrots, it is believed, mate for life. Their eggs are immaculate white and are usually deposited in the trunks of trees; theyoung when hatched are either partly or entirely covered with down and are cared for in the nest. The Parrot family are not good walkers, but they can climb, and they fly exceedingly well, often going long distances in search of their food of fruit and seeds. Bright colors predominate in the plumage and there is but slight, and in many species no, sexual variation in coloration.


CAROLINA PAROQUET

Conuropsis carolinerisis (Linneus)

A.O.U. Number 382

Other Names— Kelinky; Carolina Parrakeet.

General Description.— Length, 13 inches. Color, green with yellow head. Color.— Forehead, front of crown, lores, space below eyes, and upper part of cheeks, orange; rest of head and neck (all round), clear lemon yellow; back and shoulders, clear yellowish-green, the rump, brighter and less yellowish—green; lesser and middle wing—coverts, deep Paris green margined with paler au4 brighter green; greater coverts and inner

secondaries more yellowish-green, paler and more yellowish-green terminally and along margin of outer webs; secondaries (except innermost ones) and primary coverts, dark green, the primaries similar but becoming darker and duller terminally (especially on inner webs, where passing into dusky on margin), the longer primaries (except outermost) broadly edged with pale greenish-yellow basally; upper tailcoverts and tail, clear light parrot green with black shafts, the shafts of middle feathers, whitish basally; under parts of body, including foreneck and under tail-coverts, clear light apple green, the under wingcoverts, similar but more yellowish- green, sometimes intermixed with

yellow; bend of wing, orange intermixed with yellow; anal region and lower portion of thighs, yellow, sometimes tinged with orange; under primary coverts and under surface of primaries, brownish-gray, tinged with yellowish-olive, the under surface of tail similar but more strongly tinged with yellowish-olive; bill, light cream-buff or cream-white; iris, dark brown; bare eye space, pale flesh color or pinkish white; legs and

feet, pale flesh color or pinkish white.

The photograph to the right by R.W. Shufeldt is of a live bird, although the species is almost extinct.

Nest and Eggs.—Nest: In hollow tree. Eggs: 3 to 5, white.

Distribution.—Formerly inhabiting the Atlantic coastal plain of the United States, from Florida to Virginia (occasionally to eastern New York), and west to Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, and north to Iowa and Wisconsin, but now totally extirpated over much the greater part of its former range and so nearly extinct that only a few small colonies may yet exist in remote and uninhabited parts of southern Florida.


The Carolina Paroquet is to-day nearly, if not quite, extinct, no record of its appearance having been made for several years. Once common in the Southern States from Maryland and Colorado, they have passed away before the guns of the white man. Observers tell us that they traveled about the country in flocks and their inroads on fruit orchards won for them a dislike that in the end meant their inevitable destruction. When a flock was shot into, the survivors after flying a short distance would return again and again to their fallen companions until sometimes an entire company would be wiped out.

Many of the early writers and explorers give accounts of their appearance and habits. Thus John Lawson, Gentleman, in his History of Carolina, published in London in 1714, writes: “The Parrokeetes are of a green colour, and orange-coloured half way up their heads. Of these and the Allegators there is none found to the northward of this Province. They visit us first when mulberries are ripe, which fruit they love exceedingly. They peck the apples to eat the kernels, so that the fruit rots and perishes. They are Mischievous to Orchards. They are often taken alive and will become familiar and tame in two days. They have their nests in hollow trees in low swamp ground. They devour the Birch Buds in April, and lie hiddenwhen the weather is frosty and hard.”

Many years have now passed since the Carolina Paroquet was seen in the Carolinas. Florida is, or was, its last stand. Dr.Frank M. Chapman found fifty or more individuals in the southern part of that State in 1889. Writing of his experiences he says: “Late in the afternoon of our arrival we started a flock of seven Paroquets from a productive patch of thistles which proved to be their favorite food. Evidently their meal was finished and they were ready to retire, for they darted like startled Doves through the pines, twisting and turning in every direction, and flying with such rapidity, they were soon lost to view;the ring of their sharp, rolling call alone furnished proof it was not all a vision.”

Two days later he again came upon a flock of which he writes: “Several were skillfully dissecting the thistles they held in their feet, biting out the milky seed while the released fluffy down floated away beneath them. There was a sound of suppressed conversation; half-articulate calls.We were only partially concealed behind a neighboring tree, still they showed no great alarm at our presence; curiosity was apparently the dominant feeling.”

Following Dr. Chapman’s discovery other observers occasionally reported finding them, but these reports became lessftequent as time passed and of late years have altogether ceased.

T. Gilbert Pearson

 


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