I heard the same story from Noel Synder back in l984. Dr. Synder is the author of "The Carolina Parakeet - Glimpses of a Vanished Bird"ISBN 0-691-11795-0). Apparently a movie was shown at a meeting of the American Ornithologist's Union, possibly in the early 1970's (that detail I can't recall specifically), depicting what appeared to possibly be some Carolina parakeets in the Okeefenokee swamp in southern Georgia. The quality of the movie apparently was mediocre and Dr. Peterson's skepticism was apparently shared by many of the ornithologists who were present, who felt the birds were escaped exotics. Unfortunately the film was reported as missing, including a copy that RTP had, and it hasn't resurfaced.
As a separate matter, there were supposedly black and while pictures taken at a wild turkey station near the Santee Swamp in South Carolina in the 1930's by an ornithologist named Melamphy. It was said that parakeets showed up at the station at one point to forage on the feed and Melamphy photographed them. I tried locating the prints/negatives during the 1980's. Dr. Synder told me he was in touch with the fellow's family members and Melamphy died the year before, so he couldn't be interviewed and his family members had no idea as to the location of the images. (Ironically, the family members stated he was still "sharp as a tack" until his death). The Melamphy sighting certainly contributed to the urgency to visit the Santee. RTP and some other folks, including Robert Sprunt and Ludlow Griscom made to the area in 1937. (I don't think Noel Synder mentioned the Melamphy photograph in his book. But if any of these film records exist, it might be useful to have them examined under modern forensic techniques…). But unequivocal records weren't attained during forays by such reseachers as and Sprunt and Griscom and they fell into a dispute as to whether any observations made by local residents of the area should be given validity. The area wasn't spared when the Santee River was damned and the surrounding forest flooded not that long afterwards.
Very interesting stuff, for sure. Synder's book provides ample evidence that the parakeet survived in extremely diminished numbers in some scattered locations in the American South ((though not necessarily in the Santee region per se), until roughly the late 1930's.
Roger Tory Peterson once told me that he had seen a COLOUR movie clip of Carolina Parakeets, only lasting a few seconds, as I recall. He said it looked like early colour film (not counting hand-coloured, the earliest film showing colour dates back, according to Google, to around 1912 or `14), and certainly he was sceptical, and I’ve never heard of it since.
From: SciArt-L Discussion List-for Natural Science Illustration- [mailto:SCIART-[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Michael Rothman
Sent: April-03-15 1:34 PM
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Subject: Re: [SCIART] Footage of Passenger Pigeons completely blacken the sky
“Officially” the last wild Passenger pigeon was shot in 1900. Newer writing supports a 1901 date for the collection of another free ranging individual. Martha, the lone surviving captive died in the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914. I have never seen photographs of wild individuals, only captives.
I did a painting based on Frank Chapman’s last specimen of the Carolina parakeet, collected in Florida in 1904. (The specimen I actually worked from is housed in the American Museum of Natural History in New York). By odd coincidence, the last captive Carolina parakeet died at the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914. I have seen only a few images of captive Carolina parakeet, no films, and no “wild images”. I spoke with Mary Boughton Fuertes (Louis Agassiz Fuertes’ daughter) in the early 1980’s, and asked her whether she knew of any pictures of Carolina parakeets or Passenger pigeons taken in the wild. She was quite old at the time but had an extraordinary clear memory. She only knew of an unpublished watercolor painting by her dad of a captive Carolina parakeet. That watercolor has subsequently been shown on the Cornell University bird laboratory site.
I’m afraid neither Thomas Edison, nor the French scientist Étienne-Jules Marey ever photographed either of those two species.