Caique

Caique

Taxobox
name = Caique


image_caption = Black-headed Parrots, pets in a cage.
status = LC | status_system = IUCN3.1
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Aves
ordo = Psittaciformes
familia = Psittacidae
subfamilia = Psittacinae
tribus = Arini
genus = "Pionites"
genus_authority = Heine
The Caique are two species of parrots in the genus "Pionites"; the White-bellied Parrot (or White-bellied Caique) and the Black-headed Parrot (or Black-headed Caique). Both species are relatively small and brightly colored.

They are endemic in the Amazon Basin in South America, with the Black-headed north of the Amazon River, and the White-bellied south. They generally prefer forested areas and subsist on fruit and seeds. Caiques are generally canopy dwellers, spending most of their time in the tops of trees, foraging and playing. They are highly vocal and typically seen in pairs or small groups.

Caiques are also occasionally known as the "seven-color Parrot" because each caique's plumage includes black, green, yellow, orange, white and blue feathers. They have also been nicknamed in aviculture as "the dancing parrot" for their habit of hopping and "dancing", especially when encouraged by rhythmic clapping.

Caique wing feathers produce a distinctive whirring sound in flight.

pecies and subspecies

*Black-headed Parrot, "Pionites melanocephalus". There are two subspecies. They hybridize freely and individuals showing some level of intermediacy in colors are common:
** Black-headed Parrot/Caique ("P. m. melanocephalus"): Eastern part of its range. Orange thighs and crissum, nape deep orange, and belly white.
** Pallid Parrot/Caique ("P. m. pallidus"): Western part of its range. Yellow thighs and crissum, nape relatively pale, and belly tinged yellowish (often barely visible; belly normally appears "dirty white" in the wild).

*White-bellied Parrot, "Pionites leucogaster". There are three subspecies:
** Green-thighed Parrot/Caique ("Pionites l. leucogaster"): Eastern part of its range. It has green thighs and upper tail.
** Yellow-thighed Parrot/Caique ("P. l. xanthomerius"): Western part of its range. It has yellow thighs and green upper tail.
** Yellow-tailed Parrot/Caique ("P. l. xanthurus"): Central part of its range. It has yellow thighs and upper tail.

Aviculture

Caiques are growing in popularity in aviculture, the more commonly found species being the black-headed caique since it was introduced first in captivity, but the white-bellied caique's popularity is growing rapidly as well. Caiques bond well with humans and have a reputation as playful and energetic birds that enjoy playing with toys and lying on their backs, as shown in the photo on the right. 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.

exing

As with most parrots, males and females of either species of caique look exactly the same. The only ways to determine sex are surgical sexing and DNA sexing. DNA sexing is safer for the bird than surgical sexing.


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