IUCN threat status:

Extinct (EX)

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Conuropsis carolinensis

The only native parrot in its range, the Carolina Parakeet (12-14 inches) was a striking bird with a bright green body, yellow head, red forehead, and long tail. Recently, populations of escaped parakeets (particularly the Monk Parakeet, Myiopsitta monachus) have become established in areas formerly inhabited by the Carolina Parakeet, and might perhaps have complicated the identification of this species had it survived to the present. In its lifetime, however, the Carolina Parakeet was unmistakable. Males and females are believed to have been similar. Historically, the Carolina Parakeet inhabited large areas of the southeastern United States west to the Great Plains and north to the Mid-Atlantic Region. During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the range of the Carolina Parakeet contracted rapidly, eventually confining this species to central Florida. Logging of habitat, persecution of this species as a crop pest, and infectious avian diseases have all been suggested as possible reasons for the Carolina Parakeet’s decline, but the true cause is yet unknown. The last confirmed sighting of this species was in central Florida in the early 1920s, with unsubstantiated reports continuing for another decade. Carolina Parakeets utilized a variety of habitat types. Much of this species’ habitat was swampland and other wet woodland, where nesting took place in cavities in large, mature trees. Carolina Parakeets also visited more open habitat, such as forest clearings and fields. This species primarily ate seeds and fruits, and was often shot by farmers in retaliation for entering orchards to feed on fruit crops. Although relatively few studies of Carolina Parakeet behavior took place before this species’ extinction, it is known that Carolina Parakeets congregated in large groups while nesting and feeding. Carolina Parakeets were observed by early naturalists climbing along branches in search of food and flying in large flocks between feeding areas. This species was primarily active during the day.


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© Smithsonian Institution

Supplier: Robert Costello


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