Carolina Parakeet

po_Parakeet-CarolinaThe Carolina parakeet (Conuropsis carolinensis) or Carolina conure was a small green Neotropical parrot with a bright yellow head, reddish orange face and pale beak native to the eastern, midwest and plains states of the United States and was the only indigenous parrot within its range.

It was found from southern New York and Wisconsin to Kentucky, Tennessee and the Gulf of Mexico, from the Atlantic seaboard to as far west as eastern Colorado. It lived in old-growth forests along rivers and in swamps. It was called puzzi la née (“head of yellow”) or pot pot chee by the Seminole and kelinky in Chickasaw. Though formerly prevalent within its range, the bird had become rare by the middle of the 19th century. The last confirmed sighting in the wild was of the ludovicianus subspecies in 1910. The last known specimen perished in captivity at Cincinnati Zoo in 1918[4] and the species was declared extinct in 1939.

The earliest reference to these parrots was in 1583 in Florida reported by Sir George Peckham in A True Report of the Late Discoveries of the Newfound Lands of expeditions conducted by English explorer Sir Humphrey Gilbert who notes that explorers in North America “doe testifie that they have found in those countryes; … parrots.” They were first scientifically described in English naturalist Mark Catesby’s two volume Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands published in London in 1731 and 1743.

Carolina parakeets were probably poisonous—American naturalist and painter John J. Audubon noted that cats apparently died from eating them, and they are known to have eaten the toxic seeds of cockleburs.