Black-Headed Caique

Black-Headed Caique

Scientific Name: Pionites melanocephalus
Origin:  Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, Peru, and Venezuela
Average Lifespan: Up to 30 years
Size: 9 inches
Color: White, green, yellow, and black
Sounds: Vocal communicator
Interaction: Highly social

black-headed caique perching on top of the cage

Photo: parrotplay | Flickr

Physical Characteristics of Black-Headed Caique

The Black-headed caique is a small to medium sized parrot with relatively short tail. They have different colors on almost each part of their body. The crown is black, the back head is yellow orange as well as their thighs, the cheeks are white with tinge of yellow going down the sides until the neck. The breast and lower body is white. The upper wings are mainly green with black on the mid part of their back.

Aside from their head being black, their beak is also black (but the other subspecie has almost similar colorization but the beak is horn-colored). Male and female Black-headed caique are similar in terms of appearance thus DNA gender identification has to be done in order to identify their sex for pairing and breeding. According to bird breeders, these birds are quite heavy for their size.

Personality and Temperament

These parrots, according to experienced pet owners and breeders, are full of energy, playful, and mischievous. They have clowny personality which makes them a fun pet to be with. They are also intelligent and fast learners. These traits make them popular as either house pet or companion bird.

Although these birds are fun to be around with, they also have the stubborn side sometimes and tend to be beaky. They would also show some aggressive behavior towards other birds so it would be best not to house them with different bird species if you have other birds at home. This kind of behavior can be guided accordingly when trained at young age.

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These birds are curious and active at play time so it is important to provide them with some enrichment activities or entertaining bird toys to keep them occupied. Just like other parrot species, enriching activities with your pet bird is important for their well-being. Always make sure that the toys you provide them with are safe and non-toxic because they use their beak and chew on their stuff often.

Compared to cockatoos, caiques are not as noisy but they still do create a moderate level of noise which could only be bothersome for neighbors that are too sensitive. Caiques are not popular talkers but there are some who can learn how to mimic words and sounds.

Health and Care

When it comes to health and care of Black-headed caiques, it is important that you consider the size of their cage. Even though these are small-sized compared to other parrot species, they still need large cage with enough space where they can move around. Bear in mind that Black-headed caiques are highly energetic and confining them in small enclosures could affect their health and well-being.

As for their diet, you may offer them pellet-based bird food that is formulated with essential nutrients their body needs. You can also offer them fresh fruits and vegetables from time to time to compensate for other nutritional requirements. Nutri-berries are one of the most offered bird food for this bird specie.

It is important that your pet bird must have regular health check to make sure that they are free from any forms of bird diseases. Caiques are known to be prone to polyomavirus that could lead to gastroenteritis in birds. This condition could affect the function of their liver, kidney, and heart.

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History and Background

The Black-headed caique has two subspecies. The Pionites melanocephalus melanocephalus and the Pionites melanocephalus pallidus.  The Pionites melanocephalus melanocephalus originated from the eastern part of their native land while the Pionites melanocephalus pallidus came from the western regions. The former has orange thighs and crissum, the nape color is reddish orange, and the belly is white, while the latter has yellow thighs and crissum, pale orange nape, and dirty white belly with tinges of yellow.

The young birds of both subspecies have strong yellow tinges on their lower body part. A female Black-heade caique can produce up to 3 eggs per clutch and are incubated for around 25 to 27 days.

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