Pennsylvania Game News - July 2017 - 38
This altered photo April-fooled media outlets
and birders into believing the Carolina parakeet
had escaped its extinction in 2009.
was declared extinct by the American
After staying buried for 70 years, a
report surfaced in 2009, stating the bird
had been rediscovered in Honduras.
The April 1 news release, on letterhead
from Cornell University and The Nature
Conservancy, even came with a photo.
Excitement built immediately, but the
ruse soon was over - particularly when
Cornell began to get media inquiries for
a news release it didn't issue.
It was a sensational April Fools' Day
prank, right down to the altered photo of
a jandaya parakeet.
Carolina parakeets remain extinct.
Countless researchers have assailed the
literature on Carolina parakeets to sort out
the species' collapse.
A variety of causes have been studied
including the hunting and shooting of
the birds for food or as pests, the pet and
plume trade, deforestation, predators,
competition for tree cavities with honeybees, flocking behavior, and food-supply
But in the final analysis, most researchers conclude the aforementioned causes
- singly, even collectively - just don't
seem to have the leverage to have forced
Carolinas into extinction.
Although their decline from east to
west does seem to follow America's
colonization, it just doesn't seem that our
forefathers had it in for the birds.
Hawks, owls and crows? That's a different story. But even they are still with us.
So if the Carolina's downfall doesn't
stem from the advance of civilization,
Snyder and McKinley both suggested
disease as a possibility, but both noted
there were no noticeable or recorded
Saikku attributed their extinction to
"... various alterations in the species'
That force, he contended, reduced their
numbers to densities that failed to provide
the advantages their colonial existence
long had delivered.
It's possible the taming of America's
countryside was too much for the parakeet.
But its versatility and longevity suggested it was so much more resilient.
Sadly, that toughness wasn't enough to
help the parakeet persevere.
As America cultivated its New World
ways, the parakeet somehow ended up
with a compromised existence.
Someday, it would be great to know
But until then, it remains a question
for the ages.