Species group: Caiques
Other common names: White-bellied Parrot; Western White-bellied Caique or Parrot; Yellow-Thighed Caique; Black-legged Caique
Scientific name: Pionites xanthomerius
Little known in the early 1980s, the White-bellied Caique is enjoying a rise in popularity because of its outgoing, playful personality in a small, colorful package. Its close relative, the Black-Headed Caique, also has a white belly, but you can tell them apart because true White-bellies don't have black on the head. In the wild, all three White-belly species would be found south of the Amazon River, and Black-heads would be found to the north. They are known for rolling on their back to sleep, an unusual “playing dead” pose that has frightened more than one new caique owner.
White-bellied Caiques range south of the Amazon to parts of eastern Peru and northern Bolivia. They are typically found in lowland evergreen forests. They prefer to forage in the upper canopy of the forest and live in pairs or in small flocks of up to 30 individuals. In 2014, the three subspecies were recognized as three full species, but you're most likely to encounter the popular Yellow-thighed Caique (P. xanthomerius) in captivity. The Green-thighed Caique (P. leucogaster), the eastern species of White-bellied Caique, is considered endangered because its forest habit is vanishing. Yellow-tailed Caique (P. xanthurus) is a Brazilian endemic, so it hasn't been legal to export to the pet market for decades.
A smallish colorful parrot. Don't use the white belly as a field mark, since both White-bellied and Black-headed Caiques have white bellies. Instead, look at the head. Black-heads have a black crown, while the White-belly has an orange crown. You'll need to look further to identify which species of White-belly you hold. The Yellow-thighed or Black-legged Caique has yellow thighs and a green upper tail. The Green-thighed Caique has green thighs with a green upper tail. In the unlikely event you encounter Yellow-tailed Caique, you will see that in addition to yellow thighs, its entire tail -- upper as well as under -- is bright yellow.
165 grams (6 oz.)
23 centimeters (9 in.)
20 - 30 years
Behavior / temperament:
The White-bellied Caique enjoys a growing popularity because of its beautiful coloration and its lively inquisitive personality. These birds are packed full of energy, strong-willed, and mischievous. They are playful birds that love to interact with people and are often referred to as clowns. Although a wild flock is naturally noisy, a single pet may not be particularly vocal and it is fairly unusual for a White-bellied Caique to learn to talk very well. A good owner will take firm but gentle control. Use common sense techniques to prevent territorial biting around the cage, and allow this energetic bird time for its afternoon nap. Since they enjoy some down time during the day, they can be practical for people who work away from home.
In addition to often sleeping or playing on their backs, White-bellied Caiques are known to “surf,” a strange behavior where they roll or pull themselves over a person's body or hair. In the wild, they would bathe by rolling around in wet leaves. In captivity, they indulge in rubbing themselves against your clothes or hair. It might seem odd, but it's completely normal. They are not particularly strong flyers, and they may tend to be “beaky” to pull themselves here or to grab on there. Be aware when they are over-using their beaks, so that you can distract them with a toy to grab or chew instead of a finger.
Your White-bellied Caique should have a powder-coated metal cage at least 24”w x 24”d x 24”h with no more than ¾” bar spacing. The cage should be outfitted with several different perches and toys. They should also have a play gym with several more toys so they can spend time away from their cage regularly. Be sure to teach your pet to step up reliably on a hand-held perch so that you can easily move the bird to the play area. They are territorial and tend to be nippy if people insist on sticking their hands in their cages. Like little kids, White-bellied Caiques benefit from an afternoon nap, so have a towel or even a clean cloth diaper in the cage where the bird can roll on its back to sleep.
Like most of the South American parrots, the White-bellied Caique demands a nutrient-rich, varied diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. In the wild, they eat mostly flowers, plants, a variety of seeds, and possibly insects, so a seed-based diet simply does not provide enough nutrition. The diet should be built around a high-quality pellet or soak-and-cook, with plenty of sprouts and chopped produce on the side. While you may offer your pet healthy treats like brown rice or pasta from your own dinner, never allow any parrot to consume avocado or chocolate. If you choose to feed these birds nectar, as some but not all Caique owners do, you must take good care to keep the nectar feeder absolutely sterile, since the natural sugars could provide a great growth medium for harmful bacteria. You must never serve honey.
Written by Elaine Radford
playful personalities, friendly family pets, little beauties, Bird Clowns, HUGE personalities, smart
Manic depressive sweetheart, severe mood swings, expensive birds, depressive, cage territorial
medium sized bird, Excellent eaters
Fat man in a little coat
I named my caique Q. Yes, the letter Q. Why? Because Q was an a**hat of a character from Star Trek: The Next Generation who caused all kinds of mischief. He's constantly into everything, and I mean everything. You won't know what hit you when you get a caique. They're like a machine set to play mode one hundred percent of the time, which is fine if you have boundless energy. Q tried to eat a fridge magnet tonight when I wasn't looking.... They are friendly, smart, rambuncious, and love to play. Q is constantly making me laugh with his antics, but I always have to supervise him because he will kill himself, or me, if I'm not paying attention. He is territorial around men, and likes to guard his ladies, but this behavior is minimal because I socialize him so much. He did bite my dad though. Geez. Anyhow, caiques are crazy little clowns. Raise one at your own risk, you'll love the rewards..
From Peregrine Jan 10 2018 3:53AM
Tarzan, my Caique
Tarzan has been with me since I was 8 years old (I am 24 now). We grew up together, he is an old friend. One strange characteristic that may be noteworthy is that Tarzan has a dislike towards males. We have had him majority of his life except when he was an infant and he has never been abused or traumatized by a male so I am not sure why this is the case. For example, If a female is holding him and she tries to hand him to a male for him to hold, Tarzan with start spazzing and will start biting the person's hand. Cleaning Tarzan's cage is a little annoying but feeding him is easy and he is always happy to hangout with me and sit on my hand or shoulder. Tarzan is able to mimic the pitch and tone of voices and sounds but cannot form actual words. He is very smart and learns quickly. My favorite trick i taught him is to grab him, flip him on his back, and then I tell him to hold his tale and he will grab it for me. Its adorable. Caique's have a 50 year lifespan so I look forward to many more years of laughs and fun..
From tessaswag Jan 20 2015 6:22PM
Bodae - The White Bellied Caique - Bird Clowns
I have four caiques and I am looking th sell these two pairs as breeders. In my experience, they all started out as pets. They were purchased at about 3-4 months of age and were tame and enjoyable. As they reached the year mark, their personalities changed. The biting and agression began so I paired them up into two pairs as they were not nice babies anymore.
They have been set up as pairs and enjoy each other instead of humans. My experience is based on 4 and not just one, so take that into consideration. They are cage territorial, they will draw blood from me any chance they get, but most of the time they love my husband and most of the time they will not bite him. I was the one who played with them daily until they became agressive, not my husband, but they don't bite him!
They are loud in my opinion and I base that on many species of birds I own. They screech and it is piercing. They are very messy too as these seem to throw their food all over so I have a plastic mat under their aviary. They throw it out the door and they seem to perch on the door screen and poop outside the aviary! (My one pair of quakers do this too!)
When I had just one caique for about a week before the other ones arrived, it was a fun bird and did not bite. Not sure if it was the addition of the other three caiques made him to turn ugly.
They are fun to watch and play as they play more like cats than a bird. They are very energetic with a big personality.
So to be fair to the single White Belly Caique owners, my recommendation is based on my 4 caiques. If you know of anyone wanting to buy two pairs of caiques, please email me as these are not the type of birds for my program.
From Deb Even Jan 12 2010 1:09PM