Guest writer Christine Eicher has done a profile on the Comical Caiques to add to our bird profiles.
The Caique is a small, colorful and playful parrot native to Brazil, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador rainforests and savannahs. The Black Headed Caique is found on the northern side of the Amazon River and the White Bellied Caique lives on the southern side. Caiques are known to inhabit the canopy of the rainforest and nest in tree cavities, but have also been spotted along smaller streams and waterways.
The two species bred in the United States are the Black Headed Caique, the White Bellied Caique as well as the White Bellied subspecies the Green Thighed Caique. The subspecies is very rare and is currently not offered for sale. If you wish to see a picture of the Green Thighed Caique please visit The P Patch
Caiques average 9 inches in height. The Black Headed weigh in from 130 to 160 grams and the White Bellied averages 140 to 180 grams. Although Caiques are not known for their speaking abilities, some have been reported to have quite an amazing vocabulary. We have one Caique on the CAIQUE@parrot.mountaincad.COM e-list, Miss Jazzy B who is quite a prolific vocalizer and has in her repertoire the following phrases:
Ok ok ok ok, Give me a kiss, Maurice and Betsy. She also whistles Merry Xmas, When the Caissons Go Rolling On, the Andy of Mayberry theme song, Take Me Out To the Ballgame and Winchester Cathedral. This entertaining little girl also loves to shake hands upon making your acquaintance. It appears that Caiques also laugh within context and thoroughly enjoy whistling contact calls.
Caiques are friendly, playful, intelligent and inquisitive. They enjoy interacting with their humans and love peek-a-boo type games, hand wrestling, and finger tag. A favorite mode of transportation is hitching a ride on their human�s head. These affectionate little parrots can often be seen laying on their backs playing with their foot toys or foot wrestling with toys allowed to dangle within their grasp. Caiques are fearless and can often be found hanging upside down while swaying to and fro or trying to intimidate parrots 2, 4 or 6 times their size. Flying is not a Caiques� forte due to their stocky little bodies, however, they are known for their hopping and dancing prowess. Some natives of South America so prize the Caiques� dancing ability that they will pay top dollar for one who will twirl, hop and dance to the rhythm of their clapping hands.
Because Caiques are so active and playful, they need the largest cage possible. You can never have too large a cage for these energetic little clowns; they will use every square inch of their apartment. According to Shady Pines Aviary, bar spacing should not exceed one inch. These colorful little clowns love to wrestle and tackle their toys. If their toys are hung from the top of the cage, Caiques will grab one toy in each foot and do battle with the best of them. Because they are so inquisitive and intelligent, toys need to be rotated often to keep boredom from setting in. I think a Caique�s motto is �you can never have too many toys at any given time�.
All Caiques love fruit. Their favorites include all berries, grapes, all melons, papaya, mango, apples, all kinds of citrus and citrus peels, kiwi, fresh and dried figs, peach, plum, apricot, raisins and just about anything else you can think of. Caiques also enjoy fresh or very lightly steamed veggies, raw okra, fresh sweet red bell peppers, fresh or dehydrated or frozen corn and peas, halved cherry tomatoes, raw celery pieces, cooked red beets, steamed carrots, steamed or baked sweet potatoes, asparagus, raw or steamed green beans, and any summer or cooked winter squash. If you really want to give them a healthy treat, try giving them miniature steamed pumpkins. Raw, unsalted pecans and walnuts will make your Caique purr. They really do purr when eating a favorite food. Caiques also enjoy homemade sprouts. The Sprout People offer an excellent all organic sprout mix for small and medium parrots. The site is also a warehouse of sprout nutrition information and easy, simple instructions for each type of sprouting seed or mix. Chunky salsa or vegetarian spaghetti sauce over pasta is another all time favorite. They also enjoy an occasional organic peanut butter and jelly sandwich on Ezekiel or sprouted bread. Contrary to popular belief, a well rounded tablespoon of a high quality seed mix containing black striped sunflower seeds should be fed everyday. As with any parrot, Caiques are never to be fed avocado, chocolate, or any beverage that contains caffeine. When possible, please feed only organically produced foods, fruits and vegetables and wash them well before feeding.
As with all parrots, Caiques need a yearly wellness check by a certified avian vet. Unlike most other parrots, Caiques remain susceptible to Polyoma virus through out their entire life and will need to be vaccinated yearly by your avian vet. For more information on the Polyoma virus and how Caiques are affected by this killer disease please go to Jaxon for a personal experience with this disease and also an article by Dr. Rich for a veterinarian�s experience.
In conclusion, if you are looking for a highly sociable, entertaining, intelligent, playful feathered companion with whom you are willing to devote lots of attention to for the next 30 years, then the Comical Caique would certainly be one to consider. Only fully weaned, Polyoma vaccinated chicks should ever considered.
An excellent site for more detailed information is: The Caique Site and for a wonderful story read Spikey Le Bec: The Celebrity Caique by Sally Blanchard
Thank you Christine - you've made these birds come alive to everyone who did not know them before. Please visit Caiques Are People Too for even more pictures and information on these birds and where you can join a mailing list devoted to the Caiques.