From The American Natural History: Volume III - Birds

(Concluded) 1914

By William T. Hornaday, Sc.D,


The Carolina Parrakeet (Co-nu`rus carolinensis. Length, about 12 inches) once ranged northward in summer to Maryland, Lake Erie and Iowa, and as far west as Colorado; but now all that is only so much history. To this charming little green-andyellow bird, we are in the very act of bidding everlasting farewell. Ten specimens remain alive in captivity, six of which are in the Cincinnati Zoological Garden, three are in the Washington Zoological Park and one is in the New York Zoological Park.

Regarding wild specimens, it is possible that some yet remain in some obscure and neglected corner of Florida; but it is extremely doubtful whether the world ever will find any of them alive. Mrs. Minnie Moore Willson, of Kissimee, Florida, reports the species as totally extinct in Florida. 

Unless we would strain at a gnat, we may just as well enter this species in the dead class; for there is no reason to hope that any more wild specimens ever will be found.

The former range of this species embraced the whole south- eastern and central United States. From the Gulf it extended to Albany, New York, northern Ohio and Indiana, northern Iowa, Nebraska, central Colorado and eastern Texas, from which it will be seen that once it was widely distributed. It was shot because it was destructive to fruit and for its plumage, and many were trapped alive, to be kept in captivity. I know that one colony, near the mouth of the Sebastian River, east coast of Florida, was exterminated in 1898 by a local hunter, and I regret to say that it was done in the hope of selling the living birds to a New York bird-dealer. By holding bags over the holes in which the birds were nesting, the entire colony, of about sixteen birds; was caught.

Everywhere else than in Florida the Carolina Parrakeet has long been extinct. In 1904 a flock of thirteen birds was seen near Lake Okechobee; but in Florida many calamities can overtake a flock of birds in ten years. The birds in captivity are not breeding, and so far as perpetuation by them is concerned, they are only one remove from mounted museum specimens. This parrakeet is the only member of its order that ranged into the United States during our own times, and with its disappearance the order Psittaci totally disappears from our country. In color this bird had a bright-green body, and yellow head and neck. It fed upon fruit and seeds, and nested in hollow trees.




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