Avian Species Menu

Black Headed Caiques

Black Headed Caiques

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Species Organizations

National Audubon Society
Website: www.audubon.org
Cornell Lab of Orinthology
Website: www.birds.cornell.edu
The Avian Web
Website: www.avianweb.com

Order Psittaciformes, Family Psittacidae
Scientific Name
Pionites Melanocephala
Other Common Names
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.

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.

It is found in northern South America north of the Amazon in Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Guyana, and possibly French Guiana.

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 Lorikeets.

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.

Horse Herd