Carolina Parakeets (English)

Carolina Parakeet, by John James Audubon

Custis said only: "Paroquets very numerous. They are always large flocks." He identified them as Psittacus carolinensis (psit-TACK-us care-oh-lin-EN-sis); they are now officially Conuropsis carolinensis Gmelin (con-your-OP-sis care-oh-lin-EN-sis). The generic name means "having the appearance of" a parrot; the specific epithet means "of Carolina."

Meriwether Lewis mentioned having "observed a great number of Parrot queets" near the mouth of the Kansas River on June 26, 1804, just six weeks up the Missouri. In a partial summary of plants and animals observed, including their general locations, Clark records, "Parotqueet is Seen as high as the Mahar Village 836 ms," which would have been in the vicinity of today's Sioux City, Iowa.

The lower Red River valley hosted a large concentration of them, and they were still found in northeast Texas in the 1880s. Farmers considered them nuisances, and the makers of ladies hats found their plumage attractive and cheap, so the birds were steadily killed off. A wild flock of an eastern subspecies survived in the Santee Swamp of South Carolina until the 1930s, when their habitat was inundated by the Santee-Cooper hydroelectric project.

Based on Flores, J&SE, 221-22 and note 58