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Conuropsis carolinensis carolinensis - Carolina Parakeet (RMNH 110.043)
RMNH 110.043

Psittacidae (Parrots)

Carolina Parakeet Conuropsis carolinensis carolinensis (Linnaeus, 1758)

  • RMNH 110.043: adult, male. From captivity. Originally from North America. From: Cabinet Temminck, 1807.

Lady Jane and Incas
The death of the last Carolina Parakeets is like a tale from a story book. Lady Jane and Incas had shared a cage in Cincinnati Zoo for 32 years. When Lady Jane died, she left Incas heart-broken. Half a year later Incas died; the date was 21 February 1918. Some have it that Incas was not the last of his species. Sightings of wild Carolina Parakeets have been recorded in the 1920s and even 1930s. But most of these have been dismissed as misidentifications.

In the beginning of the 19th century, the Carolina Parakeet ranged from Mexico to New York. It was the only parrot adapted to harsh winter conditions. Its extinction was the result of the rapid cultivation of North America. This affected the parakeet in two ways. Its favourite habitat, woodlands, was destroyed and the birds were relentlessly persecuted. Carolina Parakeets lived in flocks of 200-300 birds which destroyed complete harvests of fruit farmers. They were considered a pest and large numbers were killed. The last bird collected probably was a female taken at Orlando, Florida, in December 1904. The species survived a couple of years as a cage bird, till there were only Lady Jane and Incas.

Museum specimens
More than 700 skins of the Carolina Parakeet are kept in museums all over the world. One of the specimens in the Leiden Museum dates from the early 19th century. Three came from the Amsterdam Zoo, two were purchased from the dealer G.A. Frank and one was donated by the National Museum of Natural History in Washington.

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