Pennsylvania Game News - July 2017 - 36
pine seeds, as well as fruits, particularly
Some records suggest parakeets
roosted in tree cavities by hanging from
the pointed end of their upper beak, and
stabilizing themselves with a firm grip of
a foot. If the cavity was filled with parakeets, incoming Carolinas hung around
the entrance, according to records.
Noel F. R. Snyder, author of The Carolina Parakeet: Glimpses of a Vanished
Bird, also established through interviews
that Carolinas in Florida roosted along
beams in barns and other outbuildings.
Snow surely created some problems
for the parakeets, and their apparent
strategy for riding out winter nights was
to hole up in tree cavities. They huddled
tightly like bats in hibernacula.
Researchers have reported stories of
parakeets in cavities of trees felled for firewood. The parakeets supposedly made no
attempt to fly away, even when picked up.
The parakeet found itself in trouble
decades before passenger pigeons went
into their tailspin.
As early as the 1830s, American ornithologists, including John J. Audubon,
wrote of declining Carolina parakeet
Still, this parakeet would elude America's extinction roster for years after the
last-known passenger pigeon died in
captivity in 1914.
The Carolina parakeet's eventual disappearance still perplexes ornithologists.
Was it nature's course? Civilization's
apathy? Opinions vary.
But one thing's for sure, in the time the
Carolina inhabited Penn's Woods, it made
quite a splash on the landscape.
Wilson wrote that Carolina parakeets
were seldom seen east of the Allegheny
Mountains, largely because one of their
favorite foods, the cocklebur, wasn't readily available on the landscape. He said
they were more common in the drainages
of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers and the
Deep South, where cockleburs grew.
"... it is seldom seen farther north than
the state of Maryland, though straggling
parties have been occasionally observed
among the valleys of the Juniata, and
according to some, even 25 miles to the
northwest of Albany," Wilson wrote in his
notes, according to Wilson's American
One of the oldest records of Carolina
parakeets in Pennsylvania comes from
Benjamin S. Barton, a respected 18th century naturalist who was born in Lancaster.
Barton wrote in 1799 that large flocks
Cover Painting by gerald W. Putt
"Lost Beauty" was painted by award-winning artist Gerald Putt
to showcase Pennsylvania's only native parakeet as we approach
the 100th anniversary of the death of the last Carolina parakeet.
The artist's attention to detail, and his flair for bringing out the
charismatic nature of these intriguing birds makes the work as
endearing as its long-gone subjects. "Lost Beauty" is available from
the artist as a limited-edition (150), 14" x 20" giclee on stretched
canvass for $233.20 (includes delivery). Order from Gerald W. Putt,
P.O. Box 184, Boiling Springs, PA 17007, or call 717-258-3775, or visit
the artist's website at www.geraldputt.com.