Status: Extinct (prior to 1850s common resident south and east; Snyder and Russell 2020).
Documentation: Specimen: NMNH 4614, 24-25 Apr 1856 McKissock Island, Nemaha Co.
Taxonomy: Two subspecies are recognized, carolinensis occupying the range east of the Appalachians south of Virginia, throughout Florida, and along the Gulf Coast west to eastern Louisiana (Burgio et al 2017) and ludovicianus, occupying the drainages of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, barely reaching southeast Nebraska (Burgio et al 2017, Snyder and Russell 2020).
Records: This species is extinct, the last substantiated records of wild birds in 1928 in Florida, although there were unverified reports until the 1930s and even later (Snyder and Russell 2020, Burgio et al 2017).
Swenk (1934b) has summarized Nebraska information on this species, and updated information was provided by Mckinley (1965, 1978). Ducey (1988, 2000) discussed its status also, indicating that it was extirpated in Nebraska around 1875. Prior to 1867, flocks of parakeets wandered throughout the wooded Missouri valley, apparently nesting on McKissock Island (Swenk 1934b, Furnas 1902), and it occurred on occasion at least as far west on the Platte River as the mouth of the Loup River (Mckinley 1965). A group of 12 (see Comments) was taken by Hayden and Warren on “Bald Island,” now known as McKissock Island, Nemaha Co, 24-25 Apr 1856 (Swenk 1934b).
Peale observed parakeets at the Engineer Cantonment, Douglas Co, from early Dec to mid-Feb, though the temperature reached 22 degrees (F) below zero at times… (James Ducey, personal communication). Snyder and Russell (2020) show the original range to include Nebraska from the North Platte and Platte River Valleys south along with northeastern Nebraska, although Burgio et al (2017) found a far more restricted range, including only the southeast corner of the state, as well as probable seasonal movements.
Comments: The extant Nebraska specimens are from a group of 12 taken by Hayden and Warren on “Bald Island,” now known as McKissock Island, Nemaha Co, 24-25 Apr 1856 (Swenk 1934b) and originally deposited in the NMNH Smithsonian Institute. The presence of the specimen cited above at NMNH and its status as the only specimen there from Nebraska was confirmed in a letter from Bonnie Farmer (Bray et al 1986). There is information on five other specimens from the group of 12 that were distributed elsewhere (James Dean, NMNH, James Ducey personal communication). Single specimens are now at Harvard (NMNH 4606; MCZ 43215), University of Michigan (NMNH 4612; UMMZ 20385), and the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia (NMNH 4613; ANSP 35381). Two additional specimens were transferred to a Henry Bryant (NMNH 4609) and a French scientist, almost certainly de Lafresnaye (NMNH 4610). Henry Bryant purchased the de Lafresnaye collection and donated it to the Boston Society of Natural History, which collection was transferred to MCZ Harvard in 1914.
A mounted specimen on display at HMM was donated in 1934 by a “Mrs Osborne” (HMM records), apparently Mrs Annie Osborn of Harvard, Nebraska; it was obtained by her from her father, William Townsley when his collection was divided among his four children after his death (Brooking 1933). This specimen may be one of the McKissock Island group; see https://birds.outdoornebraska.gov/the-william-townsley-bird-collection/. An alternate source for this specimen may be inferred from a statement by Furnas (1902) that the nesting colony on McKissock Island was often raided by boys and the young birds raised for pets; in one season over 100 were raised for sale, many going to other states.
ANSP: Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia
HMM: Hastings Municipal Museum
MCZ: Museum of Comparative Zoology
NMNH: National Museum of Natural History
UMMZ: University of Michigan Museum of Zoology
Bray, T.E., B.K. Padelford, and W.R. Silcock. 1986. The birds of Nebraska: A critically evaluated list. Published by the authors, Bellevue, Nebraska, USA.
Brooking, A.M. 1933. An early Nebraska bird collection. NBR 1: 133-134.
Burgio, K.R., Carlson, C.J., and M.W. Tingley. 2017. Lazarus ecology: Recovering the distribution and migratory patterns of the extinct Carolina parakeet. Ecology and Evolution 7: 5467–5475.
Ducey, J.E. 1988. Nebraska birds, breeding status and distribution. Simmons-Boardman Books, Omaha, Nebraska, USA.
Ducey, J.E. 2000. Birds of the Untamed West. The History of Birdlife in Nebraska, 1750 to 1875. Making History Press, Omaha, Nebraska, USA.
Furnas, R.W. 1902. The Carolina Paroquet. Proc NOU 3: 107.
Mckinley, D. 1965. The Carolina Parakeet in the upper Missouri and Mississippi River valleys. Auk: 82: 215-226.
Mckinley, D. 1978. Clutch size, laying date, and incubation period in the Carolina Parakeet. Bird-Banding 49: 223-233
Snyder, N.F. and K. Russell. 2020. Carolina Parakeet (Conuropsis carolinensis), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (A. F. Poole and F. B. Gill, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.carpar.01.
Swenk, M.H. 1934. The interior Carolina paroquet as a Nebraska bird. NBR 2: 55-59.
Silcock, W.R., and J.G. Jorgensen. 2022. Carolina Parakeet (Conuropsis carolinensis). In Birds of Nebraska — Online. www.BirdsofNebraska.org
Birds of Nebraska – Online
Updated 10 Mar 2022