Carolina Parakeet - Our Beautiful, Lost Bird

Deborah Younglao silk painting Carolina ParakeetsCarolina Parakeets, 30 x 24. Dyes & resist on silk

Sometimes I really wonder about the human species. Why destruction of things that get in our way seems to be the easiest answer. Here's an example. Remember this painting I did recently? Previous posts, starting with this one, show its development. I couldn't tell the whole story then because this was a surprise gift and I didn't want to risk the recipient happening across my blog and guessing what was up, but I'd like to share it now.

These are Carolina parakeets, a bird that was quite common in the southeastern US until about the end of the 19th century. Imagine - wild parakeets in the Carolinas and we're not even tropical! They disappeared as their habitat gave way to agricultural land and they were killed by farmers who considered them pests. They were also killed for their colorful feathers, which made their way into ladies' hats and other adornments. Ah, fashion. The birds' flocking behavior contributed to their demise - when one was killed, the others would gather round the body, making them easy targets. Needless to say, they are now extinct. Read more about the Carolina parakeet here.

At the Atalaya Festival in South Carolina in September, I was chatting with a couple, Debbie and Larry, who came into my booth.Looking at my work, they could see that like them, I loved parrots. They told me the Carolina parakeet story and that they were looking for images of the parakeet, but weren't happy with the ones that are commercially available. A few weeks after the show, Debbie asked me to create a painting of Carolina parakeets as a surprise Christmas gift for Larry.

I was excited to do this as the story of the parakeets had touched me as well. I did some research and discovered that in South Carolina the cypress swamps were one of their habitats, so I decided to paint them in that setting. I looked at photos of preserved specimens to get their shape and colors. Larry had a favorite hibiscus growing in their yard so I added one as a special touch. Larry was very pleased with his special Christmas gift and I'm happy to have created one more memory of our beautiful lost bird.

Client with silk painting Carolina Parakeets