The Carolina Parakeet
The Carolina parakeet once ranged over most of the United States east of the great plains. The birds preferred to roost in hollow trees, usually deep in the heart of a swamp forest. John James Audubon wrote, “the richness of their plumage, their beautiful mode of flight, and even their screams lend charm to our darkest forests and most sequestered swamps.”
During a period of about 90 years, the parakeets gradually disappeared. When cockleburs were not available, these birds would flock to farmers’ orchards and fields, rapidly destroying the precious crops.
Farmers could easily retaliate: when one member of the flock was shot, the others would fly around over their fallen companion instead of leaving for safety. In this manner, the entire flock could easily be destroyed.
These birds were also collected for their colorful feathers and because the young birds were considered good to eat. It is speculated that habitat destruction may have also contributed to their decline. The last known specimens in the wild were spotted in 1920.