At this time of year, those of us in the U.S. often find our eyes turned skyward to admire a brilliant array of colors lighting up the night sky in celebration of America’s independence. Up until about a hundred years ago, a colorful display of another kind filled the North American skies, and not just on the fourth of July. Jewel-colored Carolina Parakeets (Conuropsis carolinensis) traveled in huge, noisy flocks from southern New York and Wisconsin to the Gulf of Mexico, favoring old forests along rivers. Although they looked tropical, Carolina Parakeets didn’t migrate south in the winter but weathered the cold. As their forests were cut to make space for farms, the parrots were shot for feeding on crops and orchards.
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The Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) is the world’s largest open access digital library for biodiversity literature and archives. Headquartered at the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives in Washington, D.C., BHL operates as a worldwide consortium of natural history, botanical, research, and national libraries working together to digitize the natural history literature held in their collections and make it freely available for open access as part of a global “biodiversity community.”
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