Black Headed Caiques
White Bellied Caiques
(Pronounced "kai-eek") The Black Headed Caiques, Pionites melanocephala, and the White Bellied Caiques, Pionites leucogaster are truly the clowns of the parrot family, in coloring as well as in temperament. They are brightly colored with green wings and tail, yellow legs, cheeks and faces. As adults, White Bellied Caiques have bright orange on the top of their heads and snow-white bellies. True to their name, Black Headed Caiques have black on the top of the head. Juvenile Caiques have duller-colored plumage; their adult coloration molts in when they are about a year old. Caiques live along the Amazon basin in the wild, with the Black Headed to the north of the river in southern Colombia, eastern Ecuador and northern Brazil, and the White Bellied to the south of the river in northern Brazil and eastern Peru.
Caiques are around 9 inches in length and usually weigh between 150-160 grams, the Black Headed Caiques being slightly smaller than the White Bellied Caiques.
Caiques are a like the Energizer Bunny- they keep going and going and going . . . . . constantly jumping from one thing to another. If they are not playing or eating, they are asleep. Caiques love to wrestle and play, swing from toys and roll around on their backs. It is easy to teach them tricks, so long as they are having fun at it. Caiques have short attention-spans, so lessons must be frequent and of short duration. They will go from one thing to another and back again, so they need lots of toys and things to keep them busy. Caiques love to get inside things (mailing tubes, tents, small boxes, etc.) for playing and for sleeping. They frequently hop around on flat surfaces instead of walking.
Another unique characteristic of Caiques is that they leaf bathe. In the wild they would find a big wet leaf and roll around on it to take a bath. When you are playing with a Caique you may notice them enthusiastically rubbing their faces and bodies all over your hands or clothing. They are going through the motions of leaf bathing. They may also leaf bath in your hair - this is fondly known as hair surfing, and can result in your having a significantly altered hairdo!
Caiques tend to vocalize frequently and but are not especially loud. In our experience, they have a range of talking abilities. Some feel no need to talk; a few develop exceptional vocabularies
Caiques can be territorial, especially during breeding season once they are mature. They tend to defend their cage territories, and can be very jealous of other birds. They can be aggressive toward other birds, but tend not to be so with their people. This territoriality is more pronounced in the males than in the females, though it has been noted it both.
Caiques are so active that they need a very large cage for their size, with lots of toys and things to do to keep them occupied and to use up all their energy. They tend to do better in pairs (2 males or 2 females to keep them from breeding). That way, they always have someone to play with, even when you aren't available for entertainment. Caiques are flock oriented; as far as they are concerned, the more the merrier. They seem to think the entire world is their playground, and they are entirely fearless of anyone or any thing (larger birds or other animals). That fearlessness can get them into trouble if they aren't supervised. They also tend to eat a lot more food than one would expect - they need those extra calories to keep up with their high energy activities!
Caiques bring a lot of energy and fun to their flock, but can be dominant and need firm boundaries set to keep them sweet. They need a lot to occupy their time and to use up their enormous energy. Caiques bring great joy to their homes and are sometimes downright hilarious.