Name: White-bellied Caique (Pionites leucogaster)
Alternative name: White-bellied Parrot, White-breasted Parrot, Green-thighed Parrot
Adult length: Around 23 cm (9”).
Adult weight: Around 160g.
Wild White-bellied Caiques can be found mainly in the Southern Amazon Basin of Brazil. Here, they inhabit lowland rainforest areas, nesting high up in the trees.
One of the subspecies, Pionites leucogaster xanthomerius, has also been reported in Bolivia and Perú.
Potential lifespan: Around 30 years, though longer is not unheard of.
According to the IUCN, the White-bellied Caique is an endangered species in its natural habitat, with the population currently decreasing. Deforestation is considered a significant problem for the species, as are hunting and poaching.
Sexing: This species is monomorphic, meaning males and females are identical. Sexing is possible through a DNA test.
Suitability as a pet:
White-bellied Caiques are common as pets and it’s easy to see why. They are not too large to be kept easily in the home and their beautiful coloration is very attractive. Their clownish behaviour makes it hard not to love them and most Caique owners are endlessly amused by their bird walking around the house finding new things to explore.
Many Caiques love to play with their owners and seem almost dog-like, with some fetching and happily playing tug-of-war. They can easily be taught all sorts of tricks and many will even like to come for a cuddle when they’re tired from playing.
The disadvantages to White-bellied Caiques as pets are mostly the same as the advantages, just viewed from a different perspective. Caiques are extremely curious and know no danger, which has caused many premature deaths among these Parrots. They love small spaces that resemble the hollow trees they inhabit in the wild. You’ll have to take great care to “bird-proof” any room that your Caique has access to.
Spending plenty of time with your Caique each day is crucial to keeping it entertained and you’ll have to be prepared to spend plenty on toys for the bird to shred and throw around. Keep in mind that an overly excited Caique might bite and can draw blood; this is not out of malice, but it’s still important to assess boundaries.
Lastly, Caiques do vocalize, although they’re not as continuously loud as some other Parrots. Still, their voices are very shrill and can quickly become annoying if they do decide it’s time to scream! Unfortunately they’re not strong talkers.
Keep in mind that your White-bellied Caique will need a sizeable cage, even if it spends most of the day roaming free.
Training: Caiques will attempt to establish their territory in the home, can become overly excited while playing and will try to get into everything they can. Because of this, it’s crucial to train your White-bellied Caique and establish clear boundaries of what is and isn’t acceptable. It’s definitely important to make sure you teach your Caique to step up so you can quickly get it back to its cage if needed.
Punishing a bird is not effective, as it won’t know why it’s receiving punishment. Instead, if your Caique displays an unwanted behaviour like biting during playtime, change what you’re doing to discourage the behaviour. If the bird doesn’t respond, return it to its cage. It should quickly calm down and also learn that fun is only to be had when there is no nipping involved.
Behaviour: As touched on earlier, White-bellied Caiques are a very energetic species that will spend much of its day exploring, playing and chewing. Interestingly, a lot of the time they prefer walking to flying. They’ll strut and even hop around the floor looking for anything that might catch their attention.
While playing, they often roll over onto their backs, holding their toy in the air using their feet. Caiques love taking baths and will generally happily jump into a bowl of water or under the tap or shower.
If you can’t spend most of the day hanging out with your White-bellied Caique it’s not a good idea to keep it solo. Although you should be careful when introducing a companion because the species can get aggressive, it’s important to give your Caique some company if you can’t always offer it yourself. After all, they find safety in numbers in the wild and form large flocks. Being alone stresses them out.
Note that combining Caiques with other bird species is not a good idea: they can deliver a powerful bite and can harm other birds.
You can find a variety of Caique articles, including toys, here.
Wild White-bellied Caiques will mainly feed on flowers, seeds and fruits. Your domestic Caique needs an equally varied diet to thrive in your home. A combination of high quality pellet food, fresh fruits, fresh veggies and a high quality seed mix should work well for this species.
You can find a variety of Caique food here.
Make sure that your Caique also has plenty to gnaw on. Fresh, bird-safe branches like eucalyptus don’t just offer fresh leaves to chew up but also help keep the bird’s beak short. This avoids the stress of having to go for a beak trim.
About the author
Mari is the author behind Psittacology, an informative website about Parrots that aims to help people keep their feathered friends happy and healthy.
Originally from The Netherlands but living in Spain, she spends her days writing about Parrots in the company of her large houseplant collection and two Budgies.
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