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Parrots In North America

No native species of parrots breed in North America. The only native species known to have bred in North America was the once-abundant, Carolina parakeet (Conuropsis carolinensis). Regrettably, this native species is now extinct, with the last sightings of the species occurring in Florida as late as 1920. The original range of the Carolina parakeet was the southeastern United States, although it sometimes wandered as far north as New York and elsewhere near the Great Lakes. The Carolina parakeet was brightly colored bird, with a lime-green body, a yellow head, and peach-colored feathers about the face.

The Carolina parakeet lived mostly in mature bottomland and swamp forests, where it foraged for fruits and roosted communally. Although Carolina parakeets were sometimes killed for their colorful feathers, they were not highly valuable in this sense. This native species became extinct because it was considered to be a pest of agriculture, as a result of damages that flocks caused while feeding in fruit orchards and grain fields. The Carolina parakeet was relentlessly persecuted by farmers because of these damages. Unfortunately, the species was an easy mark for extinction because it nested and fed communally, and because these birds tended to aggregate around their wounded colleagues, so that entire flocks could be easily wiped out by hunters.

The red-crowned parrot (Amazona viridigenalist) is a native, breeding species in northeastern Mexico, and is an occasional visitor to the valley of the Rio Grande River in southern Texas. In addition, the thick-billed parrot (Rhynchopsitta pachyrhyncha) has been a rare visitor to montane pine forests in Arizona. However, there have been no sightings of these species for several decades.

A number of species in the parrot family have been introduced to North America, and several of these have established locally breeding feral populations, especially in southern Florida. These alien parrots include the budgerigar, native to Australia, and the canary-winged parakeet (Brotogeris versicolorus), native to South America. A few other escaped species have also nested in south Florida, including the monk parakeet (Myiopsitta monachus) of Argentina, and the red-crowned parrot (Amazona viridigenalis) of Mexico.

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