Carolina Parakeet

Small Bird of the Parrot family (Psittacidae) in the southeastern United States, presumed extinct since 1918.

Scientific name: Conuropsis carolinensis, given by Tommaso Salvadori in 1891.

Physical description: Bright green plumage. Yellow head. Orange forehead and cheeks.

Habitat: Wetlands.

Distribution: Santee River, South Carolina; Okefenokee Swamp, Georgia; Okeechobee County, Florida.

Significant sightings: Henry Redding reported a flock of thirty parakeets near Fort Drum Creek, Florida, in 1920.

In 1926, Charles E. Doe saw three pairs of parakeets at Grapevine Hammock in Okee-chobee County, Florida. He took some of their eggs, which have been preserved.

The National Audubon Society bird wardens for the Santee Swamp area in South Carolina reported the presence of green parakeets with yellow heads on several occasions in the 1930s. In 1933 and 1934, George M. Melamphy saw as

The Carolina PARAKEET (Conuropsis carolinensis), presumed extinct since 1918. (© 2002 ArtToday.com, Inc., an IMSI Company)

many as nine together at a time, feeding on sunflower seeds. Ornithologist Alexander Sprunt Jr. claimed to have seen a juvenile fly swiftly by in the fall of 1936. Sprunt's companion, Robert Porter Allen, had come to believe by 1949 that they had seen mourning doves or released exotic parrots.

Orsen Stemville took a color film of some type of parakeet in the Okefenokee Swamp, Georgia, in 1937.

In 1938, a woodsman named Shokes saw two yellow-headed parakeets circling above him as a juvenile flew up to join them near Wadmacaun Creek, South Carolina. The Santee habitat was destroyed during the completion of the Santee-Cooper Hydroelectric Project in 1936-38.

Present status: The last wild specimens were shot in April 1904 at Lake Okeechobee, Florida. The last captive specimen died at the Cincinnati Zoo in February 1918.

Possible explanation: Nonnative green parakeets escaped from pet owners or zoos.

Sources: M. S. Curtler, "Carolina Parakeet Not Extinct?" Animals 7 (November 23, 1965): 532; James C. Greenway Jr., Extinct and Vanishing Birds of the World (New York: Dover, 1967); Christopher Cokinos, Hope Is the Thing with Feathers (New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher, 2001), pp. 5-58; Errol Fuller, Extinct Birds (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2001), pp. 239-243.

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