Caique Parrot Black Head Breeder Pair
Caique refers to a group of four species of parrots in the genus Pionites endemic to the Amazon Basin in South America.
The two primary nominal species are best distinguished by the black-headed caique’s black crown; both have white “bellies”. Their typical weight is 150–170 grams, with the white-bellied species being the larger and heavier of the two nominal species. They can live up to 40 years, but this is not common in captivity.
Distribution and habitat
The black-headed caique is found north of the Amazon River, and the white-bellied caique south; there is a large area of overlap between ranges. They can produce fertile hybrids, but this is not common in the wild as it is in captivity. They generally prefer forested areas and subsist on fruit and seeds. Caiques are generally canopy dwellers, spending most of their time in the tops of trees, foraging and playing.
Caiques are growing in popularity in aviculture. The more commonly found species is the black-headed caique since it was introduced first in captivity, but the white-bellied caique’s popularity is growing rapidly. Well-raised caiques bond well with humans and have a reputation as playful and energetic birds that enjoy playing with toys and lying on their backs. These birds sometimes perform a behavior unusual for avian species in which they roll over on their backs in apparent play-fighting with other caiques—sometimes called “wrestling”. They are not particularly good flyers, becoming tired and winded after only a short distance. They also tend to be clumsy and slow in the air compared to other birds. They often prefer to walk, jump, climb, ride other animals’ backs, or hop as a mode of transportation. They are excellent climbers, with very strong feet and legs.
Caiques also exhibit a unique behavior known as “surfing”, where the bird will vigorously rub its face, wings and chest against any nearby soft item (e.g. carpets, towels, cushions, crumpled paper, curtains or human hair) while using its beak to pull itself along. The bird will display jerky movements and may roll over several times. This behavior is thought to be a cleaning or bathing motion and occurs regardless of age or sex. In the wild, caiques use wet leaves for this behavior.
In captivity caiques are capable of breeding at under three years of age. They typically lay a clutch of four eggs, with incubation taking between 24 and 27 days. Most pairs will struggle to raise all four chicks; often the last chick to hatch will not survive unless it is taken for hand-rearing or co-parenting. Chicks are fed by both parents and remain in the nest box for approximately 70–75 days. Parents can be very affectionate towards their offspring and after the chicks have fledged they will return to the nest box each night with their parents where the family will roost as a group.
Dr. Muhammad Usman Mirza
DVM, M. Phil (Microbiology)
Pet Specialist and Dairy Expert
Veterinary Officer (Health)
In charge of Vet Hospital.