Classification Order Psittaciformes, Family Psittacidae Scientific Name Pionites Leucogaster Other Common Names N/A
Species Description The White-bellied Caique, Pionites leucogaster,
has an orange-yellow head, a white belly, green wings and back,
bluish primary feathers, a horn-colored beak, and pink or grey feet.
There are several subtypes of the White-bellied Caique, including
the Green Thighed (Pionites leucogaster leucogaster), the Yellow
Thighed, and the Yellow Tailed. Currently, the Yellow Thighed is the
type most commonly kept as a pet in the United States. The Green
Thighed is somewhat rare in captivity, and the Yellow Tailed has
been documented in the wild but is very rare in captivity.
Juvenile white bellies often have brownish or black feathers on the
head and back of the neck, as well as yellow feathers on the white
belly. Generally these off-colored feathers will be lost and
replaced by orange or white feathers respectively. Young birds will
also have dark brown irises, which will change to a rust or orange
color as the bird matures.
Habitat It is most often found in pairs or small flocks
of 10 or so, sometimes up to 30. They live in both forest and
savanna, and are partial to forest edges. In the wild, they eat
mostly flowers, pulp, and seeds and possibly insects.
Distribution White-bellied Caiques are found south of the
Amazon from northern Brazil to Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador.
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.