New Parrots Main | C. Parakeet Links | C. Parakeet Images | C. Parakeet Maps

The Carolina parakeet (Conuropsis carolinensis) was the only parrot native to Eastern North America. These colorful and gregarious birds were once common in the great eastern forest and along river valleys of a large swath of the continent. There a numerous accounts of the birds from early European explorers and colonists. A vivid description of their habits and behavior can be found in Thomas Nuthall's "The first American handbook of birds" from 1832:

"The Carolina Parrakeets in all their movements, which are uniformly gregarious, show a peculiar predilection for the alluvial, rich, and dark forests bordering the principal rivers and larger streams, in which the towering cypress and gigantic sycamore spread their vast summits, or stretch their innumerable arms, over a wide waste of moving or stagnant waters...The flocks,...dart in swift and airy phalanx through the green boughs of the forest; screaming in general concert, they wheel in wide and descending circles round the tall button-wood, and alight in the same instant, their green vesture like the fairy mantle, rendering them nearly invisible beneath the shady branches, where they sit, perhaps, arranging their plumage, and shuffling side by side, seem to caress, and scratch each other's heads with all the fondness and unvarying friendship of affectionate doves."

A little more than a hundred years after this account the species was declared extinct. The population went from an estimated population of several million to zero in a brief period of time post-European colonization. Their extinction is thought to have been caused primarily by habitat destruction and overhunting. They were hunted as an agricultural pest, for sport, and for their beautiful plumage which was widely used in the fashion industry. Although not officially declared extinct until 1939, the last captive c. parakeet Incas, died in the Cincinati Zoo on February 21, 1918 witin a year of his mate Lady Jane. The closest living relative of the Carolina parakeet is the Jandaya conure from northeastern Brazil.

The New Parrots of North America was created by BD Collier, Founder and President of the Society for a Re-Natural Environment for Systems of Sustainability: Art Innovation Action
an event organized by the University of Houston’s Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts
and The Blaffer Gallery in March 2009.

All photographs, artwork and web design by BD Collier (aside from those otherwise credited).

This project was made possible through the generous support of The University of Houston’s Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts and Blaffer Gallery, The Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City ArtsKC fund, and the Kansas City Art Institute.