The Carolina Parakeet, in all its splendor, in the Gallery

Carolina Parakeet drawing

It’s hard to imagine now, but the North Carolina skies were once teeming with brightly colored parakeets. Conuropsis carolinensis, the Carolina Parakeet, was the only species of parrot native to the eastern United States. The story of the Parakeet is one of abundance and extinction, beauty and tragedy. Our current Gallery exhibit celebrates the life of the Carolina Parakeet and laments its decline.

The exhibit, “The Carolina Parakeet in Art: Images from the Powell Collection,” showcases the collection of William and Virginia Powell, who have been collecting art works depicting the Carolina Parakeet for decades, as well as prints, photographs, paintings, and books from the North Carolina Collection.

Highlights include an original print by John James Audubon, an illustration by British naturalist Mark Catesby in his 1771 The Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands, and a 1918 newspaper article documenting the death of the last known Parakeet in captivity.

Take a Carolina Parakeet home with you

And if you’re a fan of the Carolina Parakeet, beautiful works of art, or supporting the library, visit our 1000 Museums portal where you can purchase a high-quality archival print of Mark Catesby’s The Parrot of Carolina and the Cypress of America.

Mark Catesby parrot illustration

Catesby was an English naturalist who traveled to South Carolina, Georgia, and the Bahamas between 1722 and 1726. The book he subsequently published, The Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands, contains gorgeous, colorful illustrations of the flora and fauna he encountered in his travels.

In addition to the Carolina Parakeet, seventeen other Catesby illustrations are now available for purchase through the Library’s partnership with 1000 Museums. Sales of the prints benefit the library, making this a rare opportunity to simultaneously do good and elevate your home décor.

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