Carolina Parakeet, Conuropsis carolinensis

The Carolina Parakeet (Conuropsis carolinensis) or the Carolina Conure was a small green colored Neotropical parrot with brilliant yellow colored head, reddish orange face and pale beak that was native to the eastern, Midwest, and plains states of the United States and was the only indigenous parrot within its range. It was found from southern New York and Wisconsin to Kentucky, Tennessee and the Gulf of Mexico from the Atlantic seaboard to as far west as eastern Colorado. It resided in old-growth forests along rivers and in swamps. It was called puzzi la nee or pot pot chee by the Seminole and kolinsky in Chickasaw. Although it was previously prevalent within its range, the bird had become rare by the middle of the 19th century. The last confirmed sighting in the wild was of the ludovicianus subspecies in 1910. The last known specimen perished in captivity in the year 1918 and the species was declared extinct in 1939.

It was a small green colored parrot very similar in size and coloration to that of the extant Nanday and Sun Conures. Most of the plumage was green with lighter green underparts, bright yellow heads and orange forehead and face extending to behind the eyes and upper cheeks. The shoulders were a yellow color, continuing down the outer edge of the wings. The primary feathers were mainly green, but with yellow edges on the outer primaries. The thighs were green towards the top and then yellow towards the meet. The male and female adults were identical in plumage, however, the males were slightly larger than the females. The legs and feet were a light brown color. The skin around the eyes were white and the beak was pale flesh colored. They weighed about 3.5 ounces and 13 inches long.

These parakeets were most likely poisonous – American naturalist and painter John J. Audubon noted that cats apparently died from eating them, and that they are known to have eaten the toxic seeds of cockleburs.

Image Caption: Taxidermied Carolina Parakeet. Teaching and research collections, Laval University Library. Credit: Cephas/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)