Black Headed Caique, White Bellied Caique, Seven-Color Parrot, Dancing Parrot, Yellow Thighed Caique
Black Headed Caique:Pionites melanocephala
White Bellied Caique: Pionites leucogaster
The Amazon Rainforest.
9-10 inches in length from the beak to the end of the tailfeathers.
Caiques are known for the strong bonds that they can form with humans, so if you're looking for a new best friend, this may be the species for you. Caiques are playful, comical little birds who enjoy activities and the opportunity to explore. Some Caiques may learn to speak a few words, but most prefer to stick to "bird speak". Caiques usually do well alone or in pairs, but be careful not to cage a Caique with a bird of another species -- they can become aggressive and deliver surprisingly harsh bites.
Black Headed Caiques have mostly black heads with orange cheeks and a green streak under their eyes. Their wings and upper tailfeathers are a beautiful green, and they sport a beige colored abdomen with gray legs and a gray beak. White Headed Caiques have orange and yellow heads, green wings and tails, white abdomens, pink legs, and horn colored beaks.
Caiques do best on a fresh diet of nutritious fruits, vegetables, nuts, and beans, and should be supplemented with a high quality diet of extruded pellets. As with all bird species, clean, fresh water should be made available at all times.
Caiques are active little birds, and are unique in the fact that they seem to prefer to walk more often than fly. A Caique should be given a minimum of one hour outside the cage each day to hop around, exercise his strong leg muscles, and explore -- supervised, of course! Care must be taken to provide a Caique with plenty of toys to exercise his beak on, as the species has a reputation for destructive chewing.
Caiques as Pets:
In general, a Caique would be a good choice for a "one bird owner" or an owner that wanted to keep just a pair. They are not known for being especially friendly with other species, but easily form bonds with humans who show them adequate love and attention.
Caiques must be given plenty of playtime, and must certainly be showered with plenty of positive interaction, but are usually able to entertain themselves for short periods of time, making them a good choice for working bird owners. They are also relatively small, which makes them appealing to those who dwell in apartments and condominiums.
Although Caiques are not known to be particularly loud birds, they can and do emit calls that are very high-pitched and shrill. It would be a good idea to visit the Caique that you are thinking of purchasing before bringing him or her home. With a life span of 20+ years, you will want to make sure that you can handle their vocalizations!
All in all, if you want a bird that is beautiful, intelligent, active, and very entertaining -- a Caique may be the bird for you. These lively little parrots pack a lot of personality into a tiny bundle of feathers, and have easily made a place for themselves in the homes and hearts of countless bird enthusiasts.
Photo: Amy Shears, 27 July 2005. Public Domain.