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
Endless fun, but very demanding
I got this bird for free due to his deformed foot, he was my eighth bird (also have/had lovebird, cockatiels, Meyer's parrot, sulphur-crested cockatoos, scarlet macaw), parent-raised and not tame at four months old, something I firmly believe is beneficial for the bird's mental health and development, as opposed to being taken from their parents and raised from birth by non-birds. He immediately took to my dogs (one of which was scared, the other was very tolerant and he used to ride around on her back), and would chat with the guinea pigs (which, after three years, is still the only thing he mimics - "oi, oi, oi, oi, oi"), but it took me a full five months to tame him (while it took me four months to tame a nearly 3 year old macaw). After he realized I wasn't dangerous, I became his new playground and cuddle-provider, instead of just food dispenser. Every new person that enters the home, even today, he is very hesitant of and will stay very quiet in the corner and refuse to approach, it takes a few meetings before he's "tame" with new people. If we meet people on walks, he's unafraid. He's leash-trained, but I haven't attempted trick training, so that's N/A. He is trained on coming when called though, and does it very well, as did my macaw and first cockatoo. My Meyer's is the only one I still (15 years as of writing this) cannot train. He eats EVERYTHING. While my old Meyer's is extremely skeptical of food, Pumpkin wants everything you have and more (at least at first, then he might drop it). He especially loves wet and flavourful food, but it can be hard to get him to eat proper bird food, since it's mostly dry and plain, except for fruit. Noise level is okay for me - pretty ordinary for a smaller parrot. Nothing horrible like a sun conure or window-shattering like a macaw, but expect noise when you get any parrot. The species is very pretty (also see the rare green-thighed version - Pumpkin is the regular yellow-thighed), but unfortunately, Pumpkin started over preening at about one year old and after living for a while with a pet sitter, came back to me nearly completely plucked, chest, legs, starting on the back. He's the only bird I've owned who has started over preening with me. He's very demanding of activity and attention - far more similar to the cockatoos and macaw than the timid little Meyer's. While my Meyer's can sit with me, on a perch, for hours and do nothing but yawn, chew a little on a toy and want chin scratches, Pumpkin treats the world like his playground, he gets into everything, and is impossible to ignore while outside the cage, just like one of the sulphur-crested cockatoos I had years ago. He does not bite enough to draw blood, he only nips when he's very upset (such as you getting in the way of his food, he's very food territorial, otherwise almost never angry). I think this is more due to him being parent-raised than his species though - my parent-raised macaw was the same. Overall, I'd say it's a very fun and energetic bird, but that also means they need lots of attention, toys, and out-of-cage time. It's like a large parrot in a smaller package, upsides and downsides both, and it's not an animal you can "just have", unless you're keeping them in an aviary with other birds 24/7..
From Nimwey Aug 28 2018 11:00AM
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
It may Help the Bird Stop Plucking
Clomicalm (clomipramine) treats stress and agitation. Many animal behaviorists believe that some birds pluck their feathers due to stress. The plucking becomes a nervous habit that is difficult to break. The prescription medication may relax the bird enough that the habit ceases. Unfortunately, when the drug is discontinued, many birds again start plucking.
Always discuss the possible side effects of the medication with your veterinarian before administering it to your pet bird. .
From KimberlySharpe 110 days ago