If you have plenty of time and energy to devote to a pet, the Black-headed Caique may be right for you. These playful little birds are among the most beautiful of the parrot family and if you can devote enough of your time to a Caique, you will be well rewarded.
In the wild, Black-headed Caiques spend most of their time up in the tree tops and love to play with twigs. They eat fruits, berries, and seeds, even fighting with each other over the seeds. They live in flocks, which upon perceived danger, become extremely still before rising into the air in a confusing show of cacophonous noise and flying feathers. Black-headed Caiques seem to have an endless energy supply and personalities, which are best described as "manic". They love to play and bathe, and need lots of leafy green branches for chewing.
They are extremely sociable even though their
talking ability is quite limited. If
they are kept in a cage they will need lots of
exercise and playtime - getting a playpen is
suggested. Caiques can be surprisingly aggressive and fearless among other birds, and they will often approach much larger birds. They are really not "6' 5" and bullet-proof" as their demeanor might suggest, and they must be constantly supervised when in the company of larger birds. Their exceptional playfulness begs for a partner, and for those not interested in breeding, two females can do quite
well together. A particularly amusing behavior is their habit of hopping rather rapidly across almost any surface, which gives them the look of a wind-up toy. Be sure your bird has many toys and perches in its cage to keep it amused. The minimum size cage for one Caique is 24 X 24 X 24, the average size of Amazon-sized cages. A better choice would be the Cockatoo-sized cages, usually 36" long X 24" deep X 36" high. The bar spacing should be no larger than 3/4". The cage must be long and tall enough to fit several perches, a variety of toys, swings and vines.
A Caique will use every square inch of the largest cage. Black-headed Caiques do very well on a basic pellet food supplemented with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables along with grain and sprouted seeds. Although Black-headed Caiques have lots of positive energy, sometimes they can be grumpy and nippy.
They will need a strong hand to establish dominance because they can become aggressive if handled timidly.
When raised correctly and handled firmly, they
become fun friends. They are very intelligent and can learn a variety of tricks. They especially love to show off, and posture by strutting about importantly to establish their dominance. Caiques are also very affectionate and cuddly birds. Most love being petted and snuggled. The average adult will live between 25 and 40 years.
Growing to about nine inches in length, Black-headed Caiques have predominantly green plumage. They are extremely colorful little birds with black crowns, napes, and foreheads. Their bill is also blackish, and the periopthalmic ring is dark gray like the feet
and their irises are red. Black-headed Caiques have orange cheeks, throats, thighs and flanks. Their undersides are a creamy white color, and the undersides of their tails are yellow-orange and olive yellow. Black-headed Caiques'
primaries and primary coverts are a deep
violet or purple-blue color, and the upper
sides of their tails have feathers tipped in
Black-headed Caiques are native to Columbia, Ecuador, Venezuela, the
Guyana's, Brazil, and parts of Peru, where it resides in tropical savannahs and forests. First recorded by Linné in 1758, Black-headed Caiques are popular as pets but should only be kept by those who can be patient but firm with them.