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Aratinga chloroptera maugei - Puerto Rico Parakeet (RMNH 110.079)
RMNH 110.079

Psittacidae (Parrots)

Puerto Rico Parakeet Aratinga chloroptera maugei (Souancé, 1856)

  • RMNH 110.079: adult. America.

Not afraid of gunshots
Mona is a small island between Puerto Rico and Hispaniola. The Puerto Rico Parakeet, a subspecies of the Hispaniolan Parakeet, once inhabited this island. As its name suggests it is also believed to have occurred on Puerto Rico. If so it probably disappeared from that island as early as 1860. This parakeet was a forest dweller which may have vanished as a result of deforestation. Another explanation was provided by James Bond, the ornithologist who unknowingly provided Ian Fleming with a name for his 007. According to Bond the race became extinct "owing in all probability to its decimation by pigeon hunters, who visited this island in the last century..... On one occasion, when collecting specimens of chloroptera in Haiti, I noticed that the birds seemed oblivious to the sound of a shot. Had I wished, I might have been able to kill every bird in the flock! Clearly the few paroquets that existed on Mona had little chance of survival." The last Puerto Rico Parakeet was caught by W.W. Brown on Mona in 1892. It is now in the Field Museum in Chicago.

Museum specimens
Only three skins of this subspecies still exist. Differences with the race from Hispaniola are so small, that there is doubt whether the population of Mona was indeed different. This is difficult to establish, as so few specimens are preserved. Apart from the specimens in Leiden and in the Field Museum in Chicago, there is a skin in the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris. The provenance of the Leiden specimen is not known.


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