Their flesh is tolerable food, when they are young, on which account many of them are shot. The skin of their body is usually much covered with the mealy substances detached from the roots of the feathers. The head especially is infested by numerous minute insects, all of which shift from the skin to the surface of the plumage, immediately after the bird's death. Their nest, or the place in which they deposit their eggs, is simply the bottom of such cavities in trees as those to which they usually retire at night. Many females deposit their eggs together. I am of opinion that the number of eggs which each individual lays is two, although I have not been able absolutely to assure myself of this. They are nearly round, and of a light greenish white. The young are at first covered with soft down, such as is seen on young Owls. During the first season, the whole plumage is green; but towards autumn a frontlet of carmine appears. Two years, however, are passed before the male or female are in full plumage. The only material differences which the sexes present externally are, that the male is rather larger, with more brilliant plumage. I have represented a female with two supernumerary feathers in the tail. This, however, is merely an accidental variety.
Psittacus carolinenis, Linn. Syst. Nat. vol. i. p. 141.—Lath. Ind. Orn. vol. i. p. 93.—Ch. Bonaparte, Synops. of Birds of the United States, p. 41.
Carolina Parrot, Lath. Synops. vol. i. p. 227.—Wils. Amer. Ornith. vol. iii. p. 89. Pl. 26. fig. 1.
Adult Male. Plate XXVI. Fig. 1, 1, 1.
Bill short, bulging, very strong and hard, deeper than broad, convex above and below, with a cere at the base; upper mandible curved from the base, convex on the sides, the margin overlapping, with an angular process, the tip trigonal, acute, declinate, much exceeding the under mandible, which is very short, broadly convex on the back, truncate at the extremity. Nostrils basal, round, open, placed in the cere. Head very large. Neck robust. Body rather elongated. Feet short and robust; tarsus scaly all round; toes scutellate above, flat beneath, two behind and two before, the latter united at the base; claws curved, acute.
Plumage compact and imbricated on the back, blended on the head, neck, and under parts. Orbital space bare. Wings long, second and third quills longest. Tail long, wedge-shaped, of twelve, narrow, tapering feathers.