Home Smithsonian: National Museum of Natural History Home
Lewis & Clark as Naturalists
The Collection: Species Details Lewis and Clark as Naturalists
Bird    Species Name:
Conuropsis carolinensis

Common Name:
Carolina Parakeet

Family:
Psittacidae

Localities:
Leavenworth, Kansas
Near the Kansas River
  June 26, 1804

Memories no longer

Imagine the complete disappearance of the robin.  The memories of this common song bird removed from the landscape would be haunting.  Such is the story of the Carolina parokeet, only nobody living now keeps the memory of these once common birds.  Hunted to extinction within a few years of the passenger pigeon, the Carolina parakeet remains etched into American history as a symbol of the populace's tendency to irradicate one-of-a-kind natural resources for short-term, individual gain.  This bird was North America's only native parrot, brightly colored, social, and raucus-voiced, and yet two centuries ago, such a common sight that Clark mentioned seeing them along the Missouri River in a most ordinary voice.  Carolina parakeets survived in the wild for around 100 years after Clark recorded seeing them in 1804.  The last surviving bird died in captivity at the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914.



Journal Entries:

Capt. Clark, June 26, 1804--I observed a great number of Parrot queets this evening.



References Linné, Carl von, Systema Naturae per Regna Tria Naturae, Secundum Classes, Ordines, Genera, Species, Cum Characteribus, Differentiis, Synonymis, Locis, ed. 10, 2 vols, Holmiae: impensis direct. Laurentii Salvii, 1758

See following caption
Carolina parakeet from the NMNH collection, 1903

See following caption
Carolina parakeet from the NMNH collection, 1903

See following caption
Carolina parakeet from the NMNH collection, 1903, view of the wing.

See following caption
Carolina parakeet illustrated by Alexander Wilson


 
 
Smithsonian Institution
Copyright Notice
Privacy Notice