Carolina Parakeet – Gone But Not Forgotten

**Originally published on Feathered and Free which is being merged to MTTW.

Extinction is forever and there is no better reminder of that than the United States’ only once indigenous parrot species, the Carolina Parakeet. I wish I could give my usual bird profile with a map of where you can see them but sadly all I can do is direct you to the Charleston Museum.  It’s a good reminder to support conservation projects before this happens to any other birds.

From Wikipedia:

The Carolina Parakeet (Conuropsis carolinensis) was the only parrot species native to the eastern United States. It was found from the Ohio Valley to the Gulf of Mexico, and lived in old forests along rivers. It was the only species at the time classified in the genus Conuropsis. It was called puzzi la nee (“head of yellow”) or pot pot chee by the Seminole and kelinky in Chikasha (Snyder & Russell, 2002).

The last wild specimen was killed in Okeechobee County in Florida in 1904, and the last captive bird died at the Cincinnati Zoo on February 21, 1918. This was the male specimen “Incas”, who died within a year of his mate “Lady Jane.” Ironically, Incas died in the same aviary cage as the last Passenger Pigeon, “Martha”, had done nearly four years prior. It was not until 1939, however, that it was determined that the Carolina parakeet had become extinct.

At some date between 1937 and 1955, three parakeets resembling this species were sighted and filmed in the Okefenokee Swamp Georgia. However, the American Ornithologists Union concluded after analyzing the film, that they had probably filmed feral parakeets. Additional reports of the bird were made in Okeechobee County in Florida until the late 1920s, but these are not supported by specimens.

The species may have appeared as a very rare vagrant in places as far north as Southern Ontario. A few bones, including a pygostyle found at the Calvert Site in Southern Ontario came from the Carolina Parakeet. The possibility remains open that this particular specimen was taken to Southern Ontario for ceremonial purposes (Godfrey 1986).

The Carolina Parakeet died out because of a number of different threats. To make space for more agricultural land, large areas of forest were cut down, taking away its habitat. The colorful feathers (green body, yellow head, and red around the bill) were in demand as decorations in ladies’ hats, and the birds were kept as pets. Even though the birds bred easily in captivity, little was done by owners to increase the population of tamed birds. Finally, they were killed in large numbers because farmers considered them a pest, although many farmers valued them for controlling invasive cockleburs. It has also been hypothesized that the introduced honeybee helped contribute to its extinction by taking a good number of the bird’s nesting sites.

A factor that contributed to their extinction was the unfortunate flocking behavior that led them to return immediately to a location where some of the birds had just been killed. This led to even more being shot by hunters as they gathered about the wounded and dead members of the flock.

This combination of factors extirpated the species from most of its range until the early years of the 20th century. However, the last populations were not much hunted for food or feathers, nor did the farmers in rural Florida consider them a pest as the benefit of the birds’ love of cockleburs clearly outweighed the minor damage they did to the small-scale garden plots. The final extinction of the species is somewhat of a mystery, but the most likely cause seems to be that the birds succumbed to poultry disease, as suggested by the rapid disappearance of the last, small, but apparently healthy and reproducing flocks of these highly social birds. If this is true, the very fact that the Carolina Parakeet was finally tolerated to roam in the vicinity of human settlements proved its undoing (Snyder & Russell, 2002).

The Louisiana subspecies of the Carolina Parakeet, C. c. ludovicianus, was slightly different in color to the parent species, being more bluish-green and generally of a somewhat subdued coloration, and went extinct in much the same way, but at a somewhat earlier date (early 1910s). The Appalachians separated these birds from the eastern C. c. carolinensis.

In November 2008, I visited the exhibit of the Carolina Parakeet in the Charleston museum.  The taxidermied parrot specimen on display looked like a relative of the Jenday Conure.  Like all conures, he would have had the playful, clownish personality.  It is so sad that this species is gone forever and one more reason why we need to take care of the parrot species we still have, especially the endangered ones so we don’t lose them as well.

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The taxidermied Carolina Parakeet100_0367 100_0366

Eco-tourism At It’s Best – Napo Wildlife Center, Ecuador

If you’ve ever wondered how important eco-tourism is to conservation, this video on the Napo Wildlife Center in Ecuador explains it very well.  See how this small rainforest community benefits from the lodge by all the jobs created, new schools and a doctor for their community.  The profits go directly into the community and not overseas.  This is the best incentive to protect their native wildlife, tourists won’t come to look at empty forests!

If only we could get all those places in Africa, Indonesia and anywhere that still has poaching and deforestation happening and get more lodges like this up and running!

If you want to come here, a Star Alliance based award using Aerogal to Coca is only 20,000 United Mileage Plus miles each way!  One Chase credit card sign up can get you to this wonderful place!

We will be here next month, I can’t wait!

Echo Bonaire Offers Parrot Conservation Tours

If you are planning a visit to Bonaire, here’s a great opportunity to see how Echo Bonaire is helping to conserve their endangered wild parrots.

They have very reasonably priced private tours at only $25 per person (minimum 2 people) and I recommend going as early as possible for best views.

You can use United Airlines miles to get to Bonaire from the USA for 35,000 miles plus about $60 in taxes.  Getting one of the Chase sign up bonuses for the United Mileage Plus Explorer, Sapphire Preferred or Ink cards plus completing the spending requirement would get you those miles for simply paying your household bills with the card for 3 months!  See the Chase forum in Flyertalk for current best sign up deals.

 

Parrot Lover’s Cruise 2016 Announced

The annual Parrot Lover’s Cruise for 2016 has been announced by World Parrot Trust.  This year they have chosen a wonderful Southern Caribbean itinerary with two islands boasting endemic wild parrots – Puerto Rico & St Lucia!  I will be visiting these 2 islands in a few months on a land based trip so will have more details soon.  Start organizing your airline miles to get to the departure port of San Juan now!

wpt cruise

Set sail aboard the outstanding Carnival Fascination out of San Juan, Puerto Rico. With stops in St Thomas, Barbados, St Lucia, St Kitts and St Maarten, this cruise promises to be the best yet!

Cruise-goers will have a chance to explore the islands and local sights, attend onboard seminars by experts from the avian community, and possibly see parrots in the wild!

You MUST use the official travel agency to take part in the WPT activities.

Book Today!


CAROL CIPRIANO
Carol’s Travel Time
570.470.5006
Send email
parrotloverscruise.com

Early Saver Rates
in effect – contact Carol to learn more!

A Day With Projeto Arara Azul, Pananal

Continued from Caiman Ecologico Refuge review.

This was by far the most exciting part of the trip – a chance to see how the volunteers of Projeto Arara Azul research the Hyacinth Macaws and other birds in the area!

Cezar, Julianne and Karla picked us up right after breakfast in a 4WD truck.  They were all kitted out with climbing gear so I knew they would be climbing trees to inspect nests.

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Cezar really knows his birds, every time we passed any bird (or mammal), he would tell Julianne what number it was in the field guide and she would point it out to me so I could see what it was in English.  We saw lots of hawks, toucans and water birds  and a jabiru stork nest.  And lots of parrots!

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Flock of Nanday Parakeets.

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First we went to a nest occupied by two Hyacinths; Karla climbed up and saw no eggs so came back down.  They have natural nest which are 95% in Manduvai trees.  They have to compete for these nests with other birds and have lost many potential nests to deforestation so the Arara Azul people have constructed artificial nests.  Their program is very successful as the macaw population was less than 1500 at one point and now there are over 6000 Hyacinths in the  Pantanal!

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As we drove from one nest to another, the parents would fly off angrily and squawk their heads off complaining as the team took turns climbing the tree to see if there were eggs.  Sometimes we got lucky!

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It was just the start of the breeding season now so many couples were preparing the nests with woodchips.  Sadly some eggs the team had found before had been stolen by predators.

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We saw several Blue-fronted Amazons and some Yellow-collared Macaws.

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There is one pair of Greenwing Macaws who have a nest but weren’t around it so we didn’t see them.  The highlight came at the end of the day when the team inspected a nest that was known to have eggs in it and found two baby Hyacinth chicks!

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After the day’s work, we returned to the Arara Azul office and Julianne showed us the usual slide show they show normal tourists but we had missed because we weren’t on the normal tour.

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It tells about the Hyacinth Macaw, the Project and what we can do to help.  Don’t buy illegally imported birds stolen from the wild.  Don’t buy products made with feathers  (like this one found in a Rio hotel)  from Macaws and Parrots as the birds are either killed to get the feathers or so badly injured, they die anyway.

They have a gift shop which helps support the project but unfortunately they don’t take credit cards (I wish I had known that before) so I bought just a few small things as much as I could.  I really love this clay rosary with birds!

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They were rehabilitating an injured Female Hyacinth they named Kris.  She was rescued from certain death as a caiman (alligator) and caught her by the tail when she was either drinking or bathing in the lake.  Thank God a cowboy was nearby and rescued her and brought her to the project to be rehabilitated.  She had lost her tail and couldn’t fly or eat.

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Now she is almost ready to be released back to the wild but she still needs to be able to crack the Acuri nuts by herself.  I wanted to give her a big hug but they don’t encourage showing affection to Macaws that need to be released to the wild and they don’t want them friendly to humans.  I did get to scratch her head a bit while one of the volunteers held her.

We rejoined the other tourists for dinner. They had done the usual lodge tours but they didn’t see half of what we did, I was so happy we went!  After dinner there was a slide show about the Caiman resort which was very interesting.

Help The World Parrot Trust Save Wild Amazon Parrots

The World Parrot Trust always has an annual appeal over December & January in which certain wild parrots in need are highlighted so you can help save them.  This year it’s the Amazon Parrots which are being highlighted as they are major targets for wildlife poachers and have suffered greatly from habitat loss.

WPT 2015 appeal

Although donations are being doubled until the end of January, I do want to point out to Americans that if you donate before 31 Dec, you will get a receipt for your 2016 tax return.

WORLD PARROT TRUST AMAZON APPEAL CLICK HERE

Holiday Gifts That Help Conservation

Looking for that perfect gift for someone who loves birds and wants to help conserve them in the wild?  Here’s a few options that have beautiful bird themed gifts online!

Orange-bellied Parrot T-Shirts

New book: Parrots of the Wild

World Parrot Trust Calendar

Birdlife Australia Calendar

Virtual Adoption of a Kakapo

If you happen to be out in the field birding, keep an eye out for handicrafts made by local people.  Sometimes you find them in lodges, sometimes in markets or souvenir shops.  Make sure they are made in the local area to maximize the profit to the local community.  These Kuna women are making molas and selling them at the craft market in Panama.

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In Peru, you can buy arpilleras at the craft shop in the Puerto Maldonado airport.  But don’t worry if you can’t make it to Peru, the World Parrot Trust also has some for sale!

 

Puerto Maldonado Shop2 Arpillera

 

Birding Competition In Israel

There seems to be a lot of birding competitions springing up around the world.  I have previously posted about one in Peru.  This one in Israel is in its second year and is drawing contestants from all over the world.  I was especially pleased to see the funds raised by the competition go to support conservation!

James Currie (who has the best job in the world) hosts the Birding Adventure series.

They also have a more traditional birding excursion video for those who are not so competitive!

Over A MIllion Birds Counted – 2015 Aussie Backyard Bird Count

Just a few weeks ago, I was one of the participants in the 2015 Aussie Backyard Bird Count.  The results are in and they are amazing!

I got 7 out of the Top Ten birds Australia wide and all of the 1st three!

  1.  Rainbow Lorikeet  IMG_9819a
  2. Noisy Miner  100_7096
  3. Australian Magpie  IMG_0015Find out who made the list on the Aussie Backyard Bird Count site and see if your favourites are there!

Mark your calendars for next year – 17-23 October 2016.

You can download the 2015 results here

You can download species list for Australia here

How I Planned A Birding Cruise

The cruise I will be blogging about in this series took place in 2011 on the beautiful Coral Princess by Princess Cruises.  It remains to this day as the best cruise we have ever taken out of about 6 so far.  It was the perfect itinerary – birding at almost every port and not too many sea days.  Unfortunately Princess no longer does this itinerary, probably due to American passengers being afraid to travel to Acapulco and the cruise was only just over half full.  Good for us, not so good for Princess!

GETTING THERE

This cruise was done during what I call the Golden Age of Miles & Points – when there were lucrative promos and fewer people who had the expertise to exploit them.  I did the US Airways Grand Slam promo on both mine and my husband’s accounts to get over 120k miles in each our accounts.  The whole itinerary was in business class!

SINGAPORE AIRLINES:  BNE-SIN

ASIANA:  SIN-ICN-LAX

US AIRWAYS:  LAX-PHX-MEX

Open jaw for cruise, then drive to Orlando to see friend.  Fly to LAX and drive to see family using separate ticket on AA.

ASIANA:  LAX-ICN-SIN

SINGAPORE AIRLINES:  SIN-BNE

As I stated in the previous post, we arrived in Mexico 3 days prior to the cruise and spent 1 day in Mexico City at the Hampton Inn Centro Historico, saw the pyramids, took a bus to Acapulco and spent 2 nights at the Crowne Plaza on points and were upgraded to a corner suite.  We had a great view and even saw our ship the Coral Princess come in!

THE CRUISE ITINERARY

This map shows the ground transport (red) and cruise (blue).

Cruise & Flights

Here we have the cruise itinerary with timings.  Timings are always important as you see way more birds in the early morning.  We were really good about being downstairs ready to dis-embark the minute they started allowing people off.

Cruise ItineraryOUR SPECIFIC PLANS FOR EACH PORT

Huatulco – Princess actually had a bird-watching shore excursion so we did that.

San Juan del Sur – I couldn’t find anything for birding at the time so we did a Masaya Volcano/Granada shore excursion hoping to see birds incidentally.

Puntarenas – I booked a private day trip to visit Carara National Park and a bird sanctuary

Panama Canal – The ship provided commentary throughout the transit of the canal.  When we reached Colon, they only gave us a few hours to see the shopping centre at the port.

Ocho Rios – I booked a private birding tour.

FUN FACT:  I got to watch the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton on the big screen at the swimming pool during the cruise even though I had to get up at 4am to do it!