Classification Order Psittaciformes, Family Psittacidae Scientific Name Pionites Melanocephala Other Common Names N/A
Species Description It has a black crown, yellow to orange head,
white belly, yellow leg feathers and underside of tail, green back
and wings, bluish primaries, greyish bill, and black feet.
Habitat They live in both forest and savanna, and are
partial to forest edges. It is most often found in pairs or small
noisy flocks of up to 10 individuals, but sometimes up to 30. In the
wild, they eat mostly flowers, pulp, and seeds and possibly insects.
Distribution It is found in northern South America north of
the Amazon in Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Guyana, and
possibly French Guiana.
Captivity Caiques bond well with humans and have a
reputation as playful birds, and enjoy playing with toys while lying
on their backs. 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 as compared to other birds. They often
prefer to walk, jump, climb, or hop as a mode of transportation.
They are excellent climbers, with very strong feet and legs. Their
behavior has been said to be most comparable to Lories and
Summary Compared with the volume of larger parrots,
caiques are fairly quiet if trained properly. They have a peculiar
call which has been compared to a smoke alarm, used for warning and
for making contact with flock members who are out of visual range.
This call is high, piercing, and loud enough to alert flock members
across the jungle or neighboring apartment dwellers. They are
extremely active, prefer lots of physical interaction and playtime,
and are prolific chewers. They can be distrustful of or aggressive
toward other species of parrot, so prospective buyers should be
careful if they have or plan to have other types of parrots. They
can also be highly demanding of human attention, and stubborn, not
easily distracted from stealing eyeglasses or chewing unapproved
items even when tempted with favorite treats and toys.
Caiques are poor imitators of human speech, and their appeal as a
pet lies in their playfulness, not their speaking ability. Some
individuals can learn to mimic words, and will speak in a soft and
gravelly voice. Many caiques easily learn to whistle and some birds
enjoy developing a large repertoire which they creatively recombine
to come up with new calls and short tunes. They also enjoy learning
environmental sounds such as telephone rings and microwave beeps.
Caiques also possess a particular odor. The smell of a particular
individual depends on genetics, emotional state, grooming and diet.
Some birds smell more strongly than others, and the scent can be
described as a dry, cardboard-like smell. Happy caiques on a healthy
diet that includes flax seeds or another source of high-quality seed
oil often smell slightly sweet. Prospective buyers should interact
with a bird before buying it, as all pet buyers should, to see
whether they find the smell unpleasant.
As parrots go,
caiques are somewhat "difficult" birds and inexperienced parrot
owners should be ready to learn the bird's moods well. Although they
can make great companion parrots for the right person, due to their
extremely engaging and funny personalities, some individuals can be
very hot-tempered. Caiques ordinarily respond well to homes in which
some time is devoted to playing with them each day, and like all pet
birds, they need to be kept in a bird-safe environment.