Caiques are the acrobatic clowns of the parrot world. They are very energetic, intelligent, curious, and they love to keep busy. These parrots need to have large cages with lots of perches, fun destructible toys to chew on and exercise toys to play with. Caiques are great when it comes to learning tricks!
Caiques are relatively quiet compared to larger parrots, but they can emit a loud, high-pitched call. Caiques are not known for their talking ability but often learn to whistle tunes. Caiques also tend to be somewhat territorial and don’t play well with other birds.
There are two species of caiques, the Black-headed Caique, and the White-bellied Caique. Caiques are medium-sized parrots with stocky bodies and short tails.
The Black-headed Caique has a black head, yellow-orange neck, white belly, yellow legs, black beak, and a greenback, wings, and tail. Some of their wing feathers also have blue! Add in grey feet, and it’s no wonder that these little guys are sometimes called the “seven color parrot!”
The White-bellied Caique has a yellow-orange head, white belly, a light-colored beak, and a greenback, wings, and tail.
Origin and History
Caiques parrots originate from the Amazon basin area of South America. Black-headed Caiques come from north of the Amazon River in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Peru, and Venezuela. The White-bellied Caiques are found south of the Amazon River in Bolivia, Brazil, and Peru.
Caiques prefer to live in the humid forest canopy. They are excellent climbers, and they get around by walking, climbing, jumping, and hopping rather than flying!
In the wild, Caique parrots are often observed in pairs and small flocks of up to thirty birds.
The Caique’s diet in the wild consists mainly of fruit, flowers, and seeds.
The wild population of Caiques is not considered threatened.
Common Name Genus/Species
White-bellied Caique: Pionites leucogaster
Black-headed Caique: Pionites melanocephalus
Length: 9 – 10″ (23 – 25cm)
Weight: 5 – 6 oz. (150 – 170 grams)
ADULT SIZE: 9 and 10 inches
LIFE EXPECTANCY: 20 to 30 years
Caiques are known for the strong bonds that they can form with humans. If you’re looking for a new best friend, this may be the species for you. They love to show off and are not called the “dancing parrot” for nothing. Quick learners, they’re adept at picking up fun tricks that play into their personalities.
Caiques are playful, comical little birds who enjoy activities and the opportunity to explore. Always on the move, they’re one of the most energetic parrots and quite curious, so they can create a bit of mischief. These birds can also become cranky at times and can nip or, in the least, find ways to use their beak when interacting with people.
Some caiques may learn to speak a few words, but most prefer to stick to “bird speak.” You’ll enjoy their whistles and songs as well as the environmental sounds they mimic. Though they can get loud, they’re generally known for a moderate noise level in comparison to other parrots.
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.
Caique Colors and Markings
The markings of a caique are distinct. Rather than the hints of color here and there seen in many other parrots, caiques have more of a color-blocked look. Their heads, wings, bellies, and thighs tend to be a distinct color from other body parts with few gradients between the colors. This is why they’re sometimes called the seven-color parrot.
Black-headed caiques have mostly blackheads with orange or yellow cheeks and a green streak under their eyes. Their wings and upper tail feathers are a beautiful green and the thigh feathers and underneath the wings is a bright yellow. They have a beige to the white abdomen with gray legs and a gray beak.
White-bellied caiques have orange and yellow heads with green wings and tails. They too have yellow underneath the tail feathers and on the thighs. This bird gets its name from the white abdomen and sports pink legs and a horn-colored beak.
Caring for Caiques
Caique would be a good choice for a family or person that wants to keep a pair of birds. They are not known for being especially friendly with other species but easily form bonds with humans who show them adequate love and attention. They can be quite affectionate and enjoy time playing with the human companion or just sitting with them.
Caiques must be given plenty of playtimes, and must certainly be showered with lots of positive interaction. They 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.
Despite their small size, caiques will do best in a large cage or small aviary. Their busy-body nature means they need lots of room to play and plenty of stimulating toys. Since they are intelligent, they also make pretty good escape artists. Ensure their cage is well-constructed and can keep these crafty birds safe, even if they try to chew the bars.
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 bringing home so you have a good idea of their vocal abilities. With a lifespan of 20-plus years, you will want to ensure that you can handle their vocalizations.