Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Last Carolina Parakeet

Commemorating Incas, the last known Carolina Parakeet, who died on this date one hundred years ago at the Cincinnati Zoo, ironically in the same aviary where Martha, the last passenger pigeon, had died four years earlier.

Cincinnati Zoo Photo of Incas

The last known wild specimen of a Carolina Parakeet was killed in Okeechobee County, Florida, in 1904.

Incas died within a year of his mate, Lady Jane. It was not until 1939, however, that it was determined that the Carolina Parakeet had become extinct.

John James Audubon, Plate 26, Carolina Parrot, Birds of America

Illustration of a Carolina Parakeet by Jacques Barraband, 1801

Two subspecies of the Carolina Parakeet existed, the Western Subspecies, and the Southern Subspecies illustrated here by John James Audubon

Rare photo of a pet Carolina parakeet named “Doodles”, owned by Paul Bartsch, a zoologist at the Smithsonian Institution

Turnaround video of a Carolina Parakeet specimen at Naturalis Biodiversity Center can be seen here.

The Carolina Parakeet was one of only two parrot species indigenous to the continental United States. The Thick-billed Parrot ranged across the American Southwest and Mexico in prehistoric times. By the 1920s it was pushed into Mexico where it still survives. The species currently is listed as Endangered, with less than 4,000 individuals. An attempt to reestablish the Thick-billed Parrot in Arizona during the 1980s sadly failed.

The Puerto Rican Amazon Parrot can still be found in the American possession of Puerto Rico, where it is listed as Critically Endangered, with less than one hundred individuals in the wild.

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