Carolina parakeets, top, were indigenous to what is now the Southern United States. The birds were driven to extinction in the early 20th century through habitat destruction, disease, and pest control.

Painting by Allan Brooks, National Geographic
  • On February 21, 1918, the last Carolina parakeet died in captivity at the Cincinnati Zoo. The parakeet was eastern North America's only indigenous parrot species. 
    There were many causes for parakeet's extinction. Their home habitat, the forest, was cleared in large swaths for agricultural land and their colorful feathers were popular for decorating women’s hats. Farmers considered the parakeets pests because they ate fruit (such as apples) from orchards. Though the birds were easily bred in captivity, little was done to prevent their decline in population.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    decline Verb

    to reduce or go down in number.

    extinction Noun

    process of complete disappearance of a species from Earth.

    farmer Noun

    person who cultivates land and raises crops.

    forest Noun

    ecosystem filled with trees and underbrush.

    habitat Noun

    environment where an organism lives throughout the year or for shorter periods of time.

    Encyclopedic Entry: habitat
    indigenous Adjective

    characteristic to or of a specific place.

    Encyclopedic Entry: indigenous
    orchard Noun

    type of farm for growing fruit or nut trees.

    parakeet Noun

    one of many species of small parrots.

    parrot Noun

    type of bird with a large beak.

    pest Noun

    harmful or annoying person or thing.

    population Noun

    total number of people or organisms in a particular area.

    prevent Verb

    to keep something from happening.

    swath Noun

    path or line of material.

    zoo Noun

    place where animals are kept for exhibition.

    Encyclopedic Entry: zoo