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Caique

Nicole Cosgrove

The caique bird is a tiny yet vocal and expressive parrot that can make it one of the most popular pets in any home. They are outgoing birds that need to be kept busy with plenty of activity throughout the day. They also enjoy playing games and will likely keep you on your toes as they like to get into everything!

Caiques are intelligent creatures and require daily mental stimulation such as puzzles, board games, or other interactive activities. Read on to learn crucial information on these loving pets.

divider-birdsSpecies Overview

Common Names: Black-headed parrot
Scientific Name: Pionites
Adult Size: 23 cm or 9 inches in length
Life Expectancy: up to 40 years

Caique Bird Origin and History

The caique is a native bird to South America. They are very social and enjoy interacting with humans.

Caiques were first discovered at the turn of the 20th century when they became extremely popular as pets and are very common household birds today.

Many of them are found in the Amazon rainforest, so it is important to protect the rainforests and other regions to conserve these lovely birds. They are currently classified as endangered.

Temperament

Caiques are considered to be friendly birds that enjoy the company of humans. They are likely to use a human’s hand like a perch and may also enjoy being stroked or handled by humans. They are social birds and enjoy playfully interacting with their owners when given the opportunity. Their caretakers should expect caiques to vocalize if they feel ready, and caiques vocalizations are often loud enough to be heard from outside the enclosure.

They are playful and comical birds that enjoy playing games and interacting with humans. They are especially fond of children and will readily interact with them. Caiques can be quite the handful, so they do require an experienced trainer or bird owner to train them properly.

Caique birds have a prominent personality, but owners should remember they are known to bite when feeling stressed or threatened. Caiques can become aggressive when they are kept in a cage by themselves and do not have any social interaction with humans. They should be provided with plenty of toys or other distractions while kept alone.

Pros
  • They are social birds and love to be around people
  • They’re excellent talkers and will mimic your voice or words back at you
  • They are great for apartment living because they don’t need a lot of space
  • They make wonderful pets for children because they’re so interactive and playful
Cons
  • They can be noisy at times
  • They don’t talk as well as other species of
  • birds
  • They’re messy eaters and will leave bird droppings

Speech & Vocalizations

Caique birds are not known to shout and scream for no reason. Caiques only become noisy when they have been startled by something or another animal that has disturbed them. While they are not known for their speech abilities, these birds have a lovely whistle that they use, especially when they’re happy.

Caiques are chatterboxes, but their voices are soft and sweet. These birds can be taught to bark, whistle, and make a variety of human-like sounds. Some remarkable specimens can learn how to speak full words, but a lot of training is necessary for that to happen.

Caique Colors and Markings

Caiques are known for their green wings and back. Their undersides and their heads are fiery orange-red in color, with red or brown eyes depending on the sex of the bird. They have a white chin and pale-yellow beak. Their belly is all white, and the feathers on their heads vary. Black-headed caiques have an all-black head, while white-headed specimens have white feathers on their heads and black feathers around and below the eyes.

Females are slightly smaller than the males, usually weighing around 180 grams compared to the males at 215 grams on average. They are also about 12-15 cm long.

divider-birdCaring for the Caique

The caique can be a very active bird, and they need a lot of exercises every day, but it’s not easy to find the time to do this with them. You’ll need an appropriate cage for caiques, but they don’t need one that is too big or in a complex shape.

Caiques also enjoy a high-protein diet, so you’ll want to feed them bird-friendly foods like seeds and nuts. They make natural pets for people who are willing to take the time and effort required. Caiques are small and don’t need a lot of space, so they’re ideal for people without much room or time to spare. These birds are social animals, and they enjoy interacting with their owners, so they do need the company of another bird or a human.

Caiques are also affectionate and enjoy being petted or stroked by their owners.

Caique Parrot drinking from spoon_Noheaphotos_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Noheaphotos, Shutterstock

Common Health Problems

One of the Caique bird species common health problems is diseased feathers. Caique owners may experience a caique with featherless patches on their back that will not grow back. The bird’s feathers may also become ragged or thin due to the loss of materials and oils in the feathers that keep them healthy. Caique owners should be aware of this problem when caique is in the breeding season. Caiques will need their feathers to show off their beautiful colors during mating, so this is a time when Caique owners should be very observant of featherless patches on caiques’ backsides and thinning or ragged-looking wings.

Another common health problem that caique bird species may experience is egg binding. Caiques lay eggs in a nest that the owners have provided for them. However, if the caiques don’t produce adequate calcium or vitamin D, the eggs can become soft and stuck in the female’s body. Caique owners should pay attention when their caique is laying multiple eggs over a period of a few days, as this is usually a sign of an egg-binding problem.

One more common health problem that caiques may experience is osteoporosis. Caique species are susceptible to this disease, which causes the bones in the bird’s legs to weaken and become easily fractured or broken. If the bird suffers from osteoporosis and the owners do not provide them with proper diet or exercise options, they will be more susceptible to this problem.

Diet and Nutrition

Caiques are primarily seed-eaters and need fresh food and water daily. The caique diet should consist of:

  • Grains
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Sprouted seeds.
  • Small pieces of cooked eggs
  • Dry cat food (treats).

Caique’s diet should not include meat, dairy products, or potatoes. Caiques also enjoy soaked bird pellets and fresh water daily. A caique’s staple is seeds high in fat; therefore, the caique can suffer from obesity if it eats too many seed-based foods.

Note: Caiques are messy eaters and will need to be fed off the ground. Caique caretakers must take precautions when providing a caique because they love to play with their food, resulting in dirt being ingested into the Caiquie’s system (causing parasites). Try using a high-quality caique bird feeder, such as the Kaytee Caique Super Bird Feeder.

Exercise

Caiques need a few hours of exercise per day so they don’t get frustrated and become hyperactive. Caique birds are best kept in at least a large, well-built aviary that allows for lots of climbing. Caique can also be exercised indoors by playing games like chase with them or using a rope toy or swing in small cages.

Caiques also enjoy bathing in lukewarm water, so make sure you provide regular baths. Finally, they can fly free outside by constructing an outdoor aviary to keep predators from getting near them.

Two Caiques in birthday party setting_De Jongh Photography_shutterstock
Image Credit: De Jongh Photography, Shutterstock

Where to Adopt or Buy a Caique

You may find caiques in pet shops or bird stores. Adoption at bird sanctuaries is also an option.

Adoption Process

The process to adopt a caique starts with finding a bird available for adoption through a caique rescuer, an animal shelter, or a website such as Petfinder. It is followed by speaking to the caique rescuer or administrator about the adoption process and expectations.

The caique’s new family will also need to provide a perch, cage, or aviary, depending on the size of the bird.

divider-birdsConclusion

The caique is a small, popular parrot species that have been bred in captivity for many years. They have an outgoing personality and often enjoy performing tricks as well as mimicking vocalizations. Caiques make great pets for bird enthusiasts who are willing to provide them with enough space to spread their wings due to the size of these birds (they can grow up to 12-14 inches). Careful attention should be given when introducing other animals into the home because they may not tolerate it sound – mainly if there’s aggression involved. With proper care and training, you’ll find your new friend will become quite loving towards you!


Featured Image Credit: Hannah M., Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.