Once the only native parrot of the modern United States, the Carolina Parakeet was found as far west as modern Colorado and as far north as New York state. The wetland forests along swamps and rivers were it’s favored habitat, creating roosts and nests in the hollows of large trees like the sycamore.
Flocks were as large as 300 birds as fed on the seeds of shrubs and trees, as well as fruits like figs and apples. The Carolina Parakeet also consumed the invasive cockleburs, which contains glucoside, a toxic substance, and might have been poisonous to consume. Anecdotal evidence suggests domestic cats and other invasive species may have died due to hunting the bird.
Early colonial accounts suggest, like the Passenger Pigeon, the Carolina Parakeet was extremely prevalent throughout it’s range. However, the clearing and settlement of deciduous forests of the south and east saw a sharp decline in their population. Hunting of the bird, for use of it’s feathers and body in adorning women’s hats, put further pressure on their retreating flocks. The final nail in the coffin is unknown, but some evidence suggests that poultry disease may have pressed them into extinction, despite no New World parrot ever being afflicted by the scourge.
The last known Carolina Parakeet died in the Cincinnati Zoo on February 21, 1918. Unconfirmed sightings continued throughout southern marshlands into the mid-1900s.
Extinction Date According to the IUCN Red List: 1918