Departure and Arrival: The Sad, Strange Tale of Two American Parakeets

Departure and Arrival: The Sad, Strange Tale of Two American Parakeets
The Carolina parakeet, which went extinct just over a century back.
John James Audubon prints

By Brian Kluepfel  

The last Carolina parakeet died 104 years back. Most likely fittingly, it died in a zoo. Humans experienced wiped out all the wild birds of this species quite a few yrs ahead of.

On this chilly winter’s day, I fork out tribute to this stunning fowl, shocked, in truth that we after had wild parrots in New York.   

I look all over the woods of my native New York and see jays, cardinals, numerous woodpeckers and goldfinches, birds of various shade, beauty and variety. It is intellect-blowing to feel, nevertheless, that if I experienced been born 100 years earlier, I could possibly have developed up seeing endemic parrots amongst these trees.   

The Carolina parakeet was a stunning bird, and just one of just two parrots indigenous to North The us. The other species, the thick-billed parrot, is now limited to Mexico. (No report on how partially concluded wall development will have an effect on its mobility.)   

The Carolina parakeet was about 30 centimeters extended (18 inches) and its plumage displayed shades of environmentally friendly, yellow and pink. It foraged on a selection of wild feed, like burgess seeds, thistle seeds, wild grapes, berries and poisonous cockleburs, but as people ruined its organic feeding resources, the parrot turned to crop eater, and this was a further misfortune of their evolution. Normally gregarious, they were being very easily shot-gunned by the hundreds by farmers guarding crops, which replaced the birds’ former diet program.   

The Carolina’s hanging coloration was a further grave evolutionary offense. Men and women collected them as pets, and in captivity the birds barely reproduced people also gathered just the feathers to make adornments for hats (and killed the birds in the course of action. The feathers, to be sort, were being not gently plucked from living birds who have been then permitted to fly free of charge.)  

The rarer the birds received, the extra voracious its collectors. By 1910, or thereabout, there had been none left in the wild. In 1918, Incas, the previous surviving male, died of heartbreak, so it is claimed, soon just after his feminine spouse, Girl Jane, went on to the avian hereafter. Correctly, Incas died in the very same cage the place the final passenger pigeon, Martha, perished, 4 years prior. (Take note to birds: stay away from the Cincinnati Zoo.)  

If only the Carolina experienced flown south like its cousin, the thick-billed parrot, probably there’d nonetheless be some left. But the simple fact that we knew of its imminent demise and nonetheless allowed it to arise, is a genuine blot on our species (humankind, for those of you preserving rating at dwelling).    

If you actually want to see wild parrots in New York, there is a flock of monk parakeets in Brooklyn’s Eco-friendly-wood Cemetery. A bunch of these South American natives were in some way launched in New York in the 1960s, and these adaptable birds, like a lot of many others ahead of them, are now naturalized Individuals.  

Brian Kluepfel is an Ossining-based writer and encourages you to be part of Saw Mill River Audubon on any and all of their on-line and in-particular person adventures listed in the advertisement under or at