other small parrots offer as many
broad strokes of color and personality in one package as the Caique
(kye-EEK). This South American psittacine with the funny-sounding name
is not as well known or widely available as other pet parrots. However,
its entertaining quirks and vibrant patchwork plumage may change that.
There are four caique species in all; however, usually only two types
are kept as pets: the black-headed caique (Pionites melanocephala) and
the white-bellied (Pionites leucogaster). The former sports a jet-black
head and beak, dark-green wings, back and tail; a burnt-orange neck;
and a creamy-white breast and belly. The white-bellied Caique has an
entirely orange head and a horn-colored beak.
of origin: The black-headed caique occurs north of the Amazon River and
westward to parts of Venezuela, Ecuador and Peru. The white-bellied
caique lives south of the Amazon in northern Brazil and parts of
Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru.
Small but relatively heavy, the black-headed Caique measure 9 inches
long and weighs up to 170 grams (about six ounces). The slightly
smaller white-bellied Caique measures 8 inches long and weighs up to
Acrobatic and clownish, known both for the alarming habit of resting
with feet in the air and the delightful behavior of hopping about like
a wind-up toy. Enjoys large cages, lots of toys and plenty of
attention. Will fearlessly attack larger birds. Whistles shrilly but is
not as noisy as larger parrots.
ability: Moderate, with high-pitched voice similar to the
lifespan: 30 years