Extinct & Almost Extinct: Carolina Parakeet

Below is the painting and text of one of the creatures from my ongoing project Extinct & Almost Extinct —Carolina Parakeet, 12" X 12" acrylic on paper, 2014, Mark W. McGinnis

Carolina Parakeet
extinct 1939 —

This beautiful bird was the only species of parrot native to the eastern part of North America. It was about 13 inches in length. Its range, for such a tropical looking bird, was expansive, running from New England to the Gulf Coast and from the Atlantic to eastern Colorado. It lived mostly in forests and wooded river bottoms. Experts estimate hundreds of thousands to millions of the Carolina Parakeets were living in flocks of 200 to 300 birds when America was first colonized. Their main food source was tree seeds, but they also munched on thistles and cockleburs.

In the early 19th century, women’s hats decorated with brightly-colored feathers became fashionable and the Carolina Parakeet was hunted extensively for their beautiful green and yellow feathers. At the same time, their population began a steep decline with the deforestation of the eastern United States. With the removal of wilderness forests, the birds began feeding in fruit orchards, corn fields and on other grain crops. Farmers saw them as pests and called for their wholesale slaughter. By 1860, the range for the Carolina Parakeet was reduced to the swampy lands of Florida and Georgia. After 1904, the birds were no longer seen in the wild. In addition to the population reductions by the continued hunting, there has been some speculation that the remaining healthy flocks were wiped out by a poultry disease caught from contact with domesticated fowl.

The last Carolina Parakeet died in the Cincinnati Zoo in 1918 and the species was declared extinct in 1939.

Carolina Parakeet, 12″ X 12″ acrylic on paper, 2014, Mark W. McGinnis

Art as a Gift

Pinyon Pine Cone,  Joshua Tree, 2014, acrylic on paper, Mark W. McGinnis
Pinyon Pine Cone, Joshua Tree, 2014, acrylic on paper, Mark W. McGinnis

I have decided I would like some of my art to circulate outside of the dominant economic system. Once a month for the past year I have been gifting one of my small, framed paintings to friends or acquaintances with the request that in one to three years they re-gift the painting to someone else who might enjoy the piece and the concept of re-gifting. If this sounds like something you might enjoy please send me your snail mail address via email (or if you are one of my Facebook friends via Facebook message). While I cannot guarantee it — sometime you might find a parcel on your doorstep. My email is markwmcginnis@gmail.com.

Extinct & Almost Extinct: California Golden Bear

This is the painting and text is from my ongoing project Extinct & Almost Extinct: 50 Paintings —

California Golden Bear, 12' X 12", acrylic on paper, 2014, Mark W.McGinnis

California Golden Bear
extinct cira 1930 —

This largest California land mammal, weighing up to 2300 pounds, once numbered 10,000 and ranged from the coast to the mountains. California Indian tribes revered and feared this great predator. The bear was an omnivore eating berries, roots, fish and small animals. They rarely hunted larger animals. Today its closest surviving relatives are the grizzly bears living on the southern coast of Alaska.

The decline of the California Golden Bear started with the arrival of Spanish settlers in 1769. The spread of ranchos and farms reduced food available to the bears and drove them into the foothills. Besides hunting the bears, the Spanish captured bears to provide the spectacle of bull/bears fights and the practice continued after Americans arrived.

As the bears’ range was reduced, they began attacking and killing livestock. The upsurge of people arriving for the Gold Rush brought more powerful guns, traps and poisons and the skill to rid the area of bears. While some bears were killed to protect people and their livestock, more were killed for sport and for bragging rights.

The last California Golden Bear was shot in 1922 and the last sighting in the Sierras was in 1924 but the bear has not been forgotten. The California flag and seal display the extinct animal in remembrance of the Bear Flag Revolt of 1846 that led to California joining the United States. In 1953, the extinct bear was designated the state animal of California and it is the mascot of many California sports teams.

California Golden Bear, 12′ X 12″, acrylic on paper, 2014, Mark W.McGinnis