Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Carolina Parakeet


During my recent trip to the zoo I spent a lot of time in a little building that was dedicated to the Carolina Parakeet and to Martha, the last Passenger Pigeon.  The building also houses that beautiful Audubon picture of a flock of Carolina Parakeets (you can see that on the included Wikipedia page link), various news clippings about the demise of Martha, and some tasteful displays about extinction.

Martha

Martha died at the zoo in 1914.  Passenger pigeons were the most common birds in the US until we got rid of them.  Evidently, it took us awhile.


The Carolina Parakeet was the only parrot native to the US.  It was displaced and hunted to extinction in the early 1900s.  I knew about the species, of course, from my various readings, but I'd never imagined I would get to see a skin.

Near the back of the building was the exhibit for the parakeet, and it included a skin.  This picture is the best I could do in the dim light and through the display case.  I don't know what, if any, effect time has had on the feathers -- I'd always heard the species was brightly colored, but as you can see, the colors are more soft and pastel.

The Carolina Parakeet was the only parrot native to the US.  It was displaced and hunted to extinction in the early 1900s.  I knew about the species, of course, from my various readings, but I'd never imagined I would get to see a skin.  Here is the display.


Here is as clear a picture as I could get.





It was just heartbreaking to look at this.  Its beautiful feathers and colors, its compact size -- it wasn't much bigger than Charli.  I wonder what its sounds were like, if it would have been as crazy for almonds as the Bobbsey Twins are or as jealous as Charli is.

Somehow, if we ever learn to clone from DNA successfully, I suspect parrots will be at the bottom of the list.  Even one as beautiful as the Carolina Parakeet.

2 comments:

Shannon said...

Thanks, BP, for sharing this. Yes, that poor little Carolina Parakeet. I read that one of the reasons so many could be shot at once is because if one of the flock was in distress, the rest of the flock came to its side. Horrors, that humans can take advantage of such behavior. Unfortunately, it happens too often every day...

Anonymous said...

It was a behavior that was more human than many humans are capable of which is returning to danger to help others in danger. Unfortunately, being too good has resulted in many being killed for it.