Pennsylvania Game News - July 2017 - 37
of Carolina parakeets had been reported
around 1760 in an area along Sherman's
Creek in Perry County.
There also are citations for Carolinas
in the Manheim and Willow Street areas
of Lancaster County. These 1844 and
1869 sightings were reported to Judge J.J.
Libhart and Witmer Stone, according to
Daniel L. McKinley, who published his
findings on parakeet sightings in 1979.
McKinley also supported another of
Barton's 1799 references of parakeets
much farther north than Pennsylvania.
"I may add, that a very large flight of
parakeets which came from the westward,
was seen a few years ago, about twentyfive miles to the northwest of Albany, in
the State of New York," Barton wrote.
"The arrival of these birds in the depth
of winter (January, 1780) was, indeed, a
very remarkable circumstance. The more
ignorant Dutch settlers were exceedingly
alarmed. They imagined, in dreadful
consternation, that it portended nothing
less calamitous than the destruction of
In the years following the Civil War,
parakeets no longer were found in the
Their presence would fade across the
East and beyond the Mississippi through
the remainder of the 19th century until
they were limited to cypress swamps and
river systems in the Deep South, primarily
in Florida. Egg collectors and hunters collecting for museums scoured the South in
their quest for specimens and eggs.
In 1904, Frank M. Chapman, who is
credited with starting the Christmas Bird
Count through Audubon, shot the last wild
Carolina parakeet, according to researcher
Mikko Saikku in his The Extinction of the
Saikku found a reference in Chapman's 1934 Handbook of Birds of Eastern
North America, where the author wrote,
"So far as I know, the Carolina Paroquet
was last taken near Taylor Creek, northeast of Lake Okeechobee, where, in April
1904, I saw 13 and shot four."
This last-from-the-wild record is recognized by most historians and time has
But the Carolina parakeet would hang
onto its existence in the years to come.
The Last of the Carolinas?
The Cincinnati Zoo had acquired 16
Carolina parakeets from Florida for $40
in the late 19th century, according to
Christopher Cokinos, in his book, Hope
Is the Thing with Feathers: A Personal
Chronicle of Vanished Birds.
Eventually, the group would dwindle
to a pair, Lady Jane and Incas.
The female would die in 1917, then the
male, on Feb. 21, 1918.
But was Incas the last?
Maybe not, according to Snyder, who
believes parakeets - maybe even ivorybilled woodpeckers - could have lived on
in Florida, possibly even South Carolina.
Through his research, Snyder documents an egg collector in 1927 taking eggs
from two parakeet nest cavities found in
oaks in Okeechobee County, Fla.
He also makes a strong case for the
parakeet's continuing existence into the
1930s through the records of local ornithologists and personal interviews with
woodsmen who roamed the remote woodlands the birds supposedly inhabited.
Decades prior to Snyder's research, a
team of noted ornithologists, including
Roger Tory Peterson, embarked on a
1937 field expedition following repeated
parakeet sightings in South Carolina.
But the blue-ribbon posse didn't strike
Two years later, the Carolina parakeet