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Birds: The only US parakeet died out twice

In the case of a few species, the exact date on which they became extinct can be given. The Caroline Parakeet (Conuropsis carolinensis) has so far been regarded as such a case: On February 21, 1918, Incas, the last Caroline Parakeet died in the Cincinnati Zoo - at least this is the last reliable observation. But perhaps the kind was given up prematurely, as a study by Kevin Burgio of the University of Connecticut and his colleagues on "bioRxiv" suggests.

Burgio had already carried out an investigation into the distribution area of ​​the colorful parakeets in 2017 and demonstrated that it was smaller than expected and that the respective home of the two subspecies of the bird hardly overlapped. Based on this knowledge, the scientist and his team have developed a new model and recalculated the respective extinction dates of the two subspecies.

The western subspecies became extinct in 1913, which corresponds to the year known so far: Until now, 1915 was considered to be the time when the parakeet disappeared in the wild. The eastern subspecies probably survived until the late 1930s or even 1944 in parts of Florida, where large areas of inaccessible swamp forests existed at that time. So perhaps the species could have been saved if intensive protective measures had been taken in the southeastern United States after Incas died.

Burgio and Co. did not comment on the causes. Carolina's parakeets were intensely persecuted as a supposed pest of agriculture. In addition, there was habitat destruction and possibly the spread of European honey bees: They competed with the birds for nesting holes. Hunting and deforestation led to the disappearance of several species in the southeastern United States in the middle of the last century. In addition to the parrots, the ivory woodpecker and the Bachmann wood warbler were also lost.