Carolina parakeet (Conuropsis carolinensis) was a small sized bird that belonged to Psittacidae family, Conuropsis genus and Psittaciformes order. These birds are extinct species of small green parrots that were native to United States. They lived in woodlands.
They had usual green appearance with dark green plumages, light green underparts of the body, yellow head, orange forehead and face. Legs and feet were brown in colour. Males and females were almost identical except that males had slight large size as compared to females. They lived in huge flocks.
Their diet included seeds, fruits and insects. They formed their nests in hollow trees. Some of them were monogamous and some shared their nests with multiple birds. Their breeding season started in spring.
They had average size of about 12 inches to 13 inches, average weight of about 280 grams, and average wingspan of about 21 inches to 23 inches.
Some of the predators of these birds were skunks, raccoons and snakes. The major threats to these birds were deforestation, hunting, spread of diseases and other natural problems. Their decline started in 18th and 19th centuries. The last member of this bird species died in 1918. They are listed as extinct by International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Their average lifespan was up to 30 years.
Carolina Parakeet Habitat:
Carolina parakeets were once widely distributed across United States. They inhabited woodlands that were next to rivers or swamps. They also preferred farmlands. They were distributed as far west as Colorado and as far north as New York. However, this geographical range is not completely true because it was based on few historical sightings. In 2017, more acceptable and constricted range was described. According to 2017 map, some species inhabited Florida and some migrated towards United States from Kansas to Ohio.
Carolina Parakeet Adaptations:
Some of the adaptations exhibited by Carolina parakeets are as follows,
- These birds were native to United States, inhabited cypress swamps, bottomland forests and riparian woods along the rivers. Their geographical range was distributed across eastern United States, north to Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, south to Texas and west to Kansas.
- They were highly social. They exhibited feeding, nesting and roosting in large flocks.
- Most parrots live in tropical region but these birds preferred temperate regions.
- They had strong beak and zygodactyl feet (two toes towards forward and two toes towards backward). Their strong beaks enabled them to crack hard nuts. Their feet were used as hands to grasp food.
- They had green appearance, yellow head and orange patches on forehead. Both the males and females were similar. Young birds exhibited dull colouration , lacked yellow coloured head and orange patches on forehead. The adult plumages developed at the age of about 2 years. They had pointed wings and long tails. They were quite distinguishable because of their colourful appearance.
- These birds were quite vocal. They exhibited distinctive loud calls during flight.
- Their diet comprised of seeds, blossoms and insects. They travelled large distances in search of food and they were nomadic.
- These birds exhibited communal nesting behavior.
Carolina Parakeet Behavior:
Carolina parakeets lived in the form of flocks. The flock contained 100 to 1,000 birds. There were not known to be largely migratory birds but some species had exhibited migration to escape from cold weather conditions.
They were highly social. They were known to forage for food at sunrise and sunset. They used to spend all the day roosting, resting and bathing. They exhibited some preening and scratching which were necessary to strengthen their bonds and also for cleaning purposes.
They used their beaks as a third limb for walking, hopping and climbing. They were also known to make harsh and noisy shrill calls after seeing any predator and during flight.
Carolina Parakeet Call:
These birds travelled in flocks. Those flocks could be heard from great distances because of the loud shrilling calls they used to make while flying. They were often found silent while roosting. Low chatter was observed while feeding. These birds exhibited shrill warning calls after seeing any predator. They communicate with each other with the help of mutual preening and visual cues.
Carolina Parakeet Diet:
Carolina parakeets were omnivores. Their diet comprised of fruits and seeds including elm, beech, sycamore, oak, maple and pine. Seeds of Cockleburs were one of their favourite foods. They also consumed insects for extra protein supplements and saline water, salt licks to add salt in their diet.
They were seen cracking hard nuts with the help of their strong beaks.
Carolina Parakeet Facts:
Some of the facts about Carolina parakeet are as follows,
- These birds were native to United States.
- They were one of the few species of parrot that lived as far north as United States.
- Their most distinctive feature was their bright coloured plumages.
- They inhabited woodlands.
- They were omnivores and used to eat fruits, seeds, flowers and insects.
- They formed their nests in hollowed trees.
- They were known as expert climbers. Their beaks functioned as a third limb for climbing.
- They were extremely noisy.
- As they used to eat toxic seeds of Cocklebur so it is believed that they might be poisonous.
- Their age of molting was 18 to 19 days.
- Some of the predators of these birds included raccoons, squirrels, snakes and skunks.
- The major threats to these birds were hunting and deforestation.
- They are listed as “extinct” by IUCN.
- Their average lifespan was up to 30 years.
Carolina Parakeet Lifespan:
Carolina parakeets were long lived species. Their average lifespan was up to 30 years.
What Killed The Carolina Parakeet?
There are many reasons that killed Carolina parakeets. These include deforestation, some natural problems and hunting. Hunting is the primary factor that caused Carolina patakeet’s extinction. People used to hunt for sport and commercial purposes. Their feathers were used to make clothes adorable.
These birds were killed by farmers because Carolina parakeets used to ruin their crops while plundering. These birds loved to reunite with the fallen flock mates. Those flocks were killed by the farmers all at once contributing to the loss of great population. Deforestation or loss of the habitat also played major role in extinguishing Carolina patakeet’s population.
Can The Carolina Parakeet Be Bought Back?
Though Carolina parakeets have been vanished from this world quite a long time ago but there is still some hope to bring them back. Their de-extinction is possible. It won’t be easy but scientists are making their efforts. Some are thinking to make efforts to alter the Sun parakeet’s DNA to produce Carolina parakeet offspring. That’s quite difficult because this involves altering of hundreds of protein codes.
A biologist named Kevin Burigo published an outline “Lazarus ecology”. He believes that it’s possible to bring back the extinct species by introducing extinct DNA to close relatives. The introduction of extinct DNA should be within specific environments where they once lived. Some scientists also believe that by understanding Carolina parakeet’s DNA and its diet, it can be reintroduced.
Is The Carolina Parakeet Really Extinct?
Yes Carolina parakeets are extinct species. They had started declining in 18th and 19th century. The last member of this species died in 1918.
The Carolina parakeets were one of the few parrot species native to the United States. They were well known for their bright coloured plumage, their loud shrill calls after seeing predators and during flight. They were highly social. They have become extinct because of hunting, deforestation and some natural problems.