Caroline parrot: scientific description of the species, interesting facts, history of extinction

Caroline parrot: scientific description of the species, interesting facts, history of extinction
Caroline parrot: scientific description of the species, interesting facts, history of extinction

The Carolina parrot is an extinct animal of the parrot family (Psittacidae) that lived in North America. Belongs to the monotypic genus Conuropsis. The species was destroyed as a result of hunting and human activities. The last individuals died in the zoo about 100 years ago. The scientific name of this bird is Conuropsis carolinensis.

The Carolina parrot was the only representative of the Psittacidae family on the North American continent and, moreover, was endemic.

Biological characteristics of birds

Conuropsis carolinensis was the northernmost member of the parrot family. Unlike its tropical relatives, this bird easily endured the winter cold.

There is very little scientific information about the biology of the Carolina parrots. Descriptions are based on records from the time when this species still existed in nature. According to these data, the Caroline parrots were unusually beautiful birds with a long lifespan (up to 35 years). They arepreferred to live in coastal thickets of sycamores and cypresses. The diet included thistle seed pods, fruits, and later grains of some agricultural plants grown on North American plantations.

Data on the reproduction of these birds is extremely scarce. They are known to nest in the spring. The females laid two to five eggs and incubated them for 23 days. The biology of mating is unknown due to the lack of relevant research.

The only detailed information about the Carolina parrots concerns morphological features, namely: body size, plumage, wingspan, etc. Zoological museums have constructed stuffed animals of these birds. The collections also include 720 skins and 16 complete skeletons.

caroline parrot stuffed

Appearance and photo of the Carolina Parrot

Among parrots, the Carolines are far from small. The body size of an adult male reached 32 centimeters, and together with the tail - 45. This bird was much larger than the budgerigar.

The weight of Conuropsis carolinensis varied from 100 to 140 grams, and the wingspan exceeded 50 centimeters. The females were slightly smaller than the males.

The main plumage of parrots had a bright grassy green color. The front and sides of the head were red-orange, while the throat region and crown were yellow. The wings alternated with areas of different colors (dark green, olive and black). In the region of the inner web, the flight feathers are purple-black. The tail of the Carolina parrot is dark green, with a gray-yellow bottom and a blackish border. had a beakwhitish pink color.

appearance of the caroline parrot

Caroline parrots did not have well-defined sexual dimorphism. The main difference was in the brightness of the color (the plumage of females was paler). The difference in size was not decisive in the visual determination of sex.


The habitat of this bird was the territory located between Dakota and Florida. The distribution of the animal reached 42 degrees north latitude. The birds have tolerated the occasional harsh winter conditions in these areas, which are unacceptable to many inhabitants of the tropics.

distribution area

Caroline parrots have been recorded in South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia. The westernmost point of detection of these birds is eastern Colorado.

As a habitat, Caroline parrots preferred forest biotopes near water bodies, where birds periodically flew to drink. These birds built their nests in the hollows of trees. After the development of the continent by Europeans, parrots began to populate agricultural land.

Extinction story

The era of the extermination of the Carolina parrots began with the development of the colonization of North America by Europeans. Bird hunting had two main reasons:

  • aesthetic - parrot feathers served as a popular decoration for women's hats;
  • economic - farmers assumed that these birds could cause serious damage to the crop.

On the abundance of the speciesaffected not only shooting, but also the destruction of natural habitats. The forest area was shrinking, being replaced by agricultural plantations.

According to officially confirmed data, the last representatives of the species died in the Cincinnati Zoo. They were a male and a female named Lady Jane and Inkas. The first individual died in the summer of 1917, and the second a few months later, in the winter. Thus, 1918 became the official date for the extinction of the species.

Reliability of information that the last wild representatives were seen in Florida in 1926 has not been confirmed, as well as rumors about the meeting of these parrots in nature until 1938.

Interesting facts about the Carolina parrot

This species was first scientifically described in 1758 by the famous founder of binary nomenclature, Carl Linnaeus. From that moment until the official date of disappearance (1918), only 150 years have passed.

Caroline parrots were well known to the indigenous peoples of America. The Indians appreciated these birds for their beautiful exotic appearance and often sold them to immigrants from Europe, and also used bones and feathers for various rituals.

parrot drawing

According to eyewitness accounts that have survived to this day, the color of the Carolina parrots was so colorful and bright that a dense group of individuals sitting on the ground looked like a Persian carpet from a distance. Not surprisingly, among Europeans, these birds were popular as exotic pets.

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