Drawing of a soldier from 1918 wearing a mask of an extinct Carolina Parakeet by Jenny Kendler
The Carolina Parakeet
From the Extinction Portraits series
Graphite on paper in painted frame with vintage ribbon
11 x 9 in., framed

Conuropsis carolinensis
Extinct 1918

The Carolina Parakeet was the only native parrot species of the Eastern United States.Though many factors contributed to their extinctions, these charming and colorful birds were mainly the victims of the rapidly growing population and subsequent cultivation of the Eastern United States.

Though killed for their feathers for hats and captured for the pet trade, the parakeet's main nemesis were the farming industry. Farmers considered them a 'crop pest', and killed them in large numbers -- in spite of, or possibly unaware, that the parakeets were actually beneficial -- being crucial to controlling the invasive cocklebur plant.

As land was cleared for farming, the last of the Carolina Parakeets natural habitat disappeared. The few remaining flocks are believed to have died rapidly from an outbreak of some sort of poultry disease.

The last wild specimen was killed in 1904, in Florida, and the last parakeet in captivity, named Incas, died at the Cincinnati Zoo in 1918. In a sad and strange coincidence, Incas died in the same cage in which the last Passenger Pigeon, Martha, had died four years before.