Black Headed Caique

Black Headed Caique:

Black headed caique, pionites melanocephala melanocephala, are about 23cm (9 inches) when adult size. They will weigh 110 to 130 grams and will achieve 90% of their adult size by 4 months of age. It has the entire top of the head black; the lores and the throat and cheeks are yellow. There is an orange band across the hind neck. The upper parts are dark green and the entire under parts are white except for the orange thighs. The primary coverts and primaries are deep blue. This iris is bright red and the eye is gray. 

Immature birds will have the under parts yellowish white or pale buff and the plumage is paler than in adults. There is a blue tinge to the green on the wings. The bill is horn-colored, marked with black. The iris is dark brown.


This caique is found north of the Amazon, from the Guianas and northern Peru, Brazil, west to southern Colombia, eastern Ecuador and north-eastern Peru. They are usually found in forested and Savannah areas, and seen in small flocks. The caique will feed in canopies of trees on fruits, berries, and seeds.


Although you will not often here the high voice that these bird can be capable of, they will usually make alot of small play noises. They don’t often make good talker - this is not where their grand qualities are found, but there are so many others.

Social Habits:

The black caique is a very sweet little fellow and highly intelligent. They are extremely easy to teach tricks to, they love to lay on their back - even in your hands and they will make a little hop when they run. They love to be held and yet they are extremely playful. Caiques are the type of bird and they will tolerate the loudness of a family and the quick actions of children. Although young children must be watched with any bird. They love to play with toys and are "always" happy to have new ones. If you let them, Caiques will quickly run under your covers and go to bed with you (although this is very dangerous and highly recommended that you never fall asleep with your bird). Be sure to get him a snuggle bed of his own, they really do enjoy these. These guys are very active, a whole lot of bird in such a tiny package.  So as a Caique owner, it is your job to keep them occupied and be sure to give them tons of wood to chew on.  Never neglect having plenty of things for them to play with.


Caiques are very playful and they really do need a roomy cage. 24" x 20" would be the smallest you would want to go, but bigger is always better. That way you have lots of room to hang those toys they desperately need, and a snuggle bed (a must for a caique).  As always, a powder-coated cage would be an excellent recommendation.

Diet Information:

The best diet for a caique would be pellets and lots of fresh fruits - a must for this bird -and vegetables which will not be eaten with much enthusiasm. They also love walnuts, and can also be offered nectar. With a good pellet diet, additional vitamins are not necessary, except maybe spirulina. Spirulina will enhance the color on your bird and make those brilliant colors even more vibrant. This should be put on their fruits like you would put salt of food. Seed is not a favorite, except for hemp. A must with any parrot is a water bottle system. This will provide fresh, clean water to your bird at all times, even when you aren’t home for a couple of days.


These guys will usually mature between 3 and 4 years of age.


If you do pair up two black heads be sure they are unrelated. They can only be sexed either by blood DNA sexing or surgically by a qualified vet. When selecting a nest box a 12" x 10" x 10" will do. They do love to chew wood so a ABS plastic nest box should be considered. Provide pine shavings, and eucalyptus in your nest box. The female will usually lay 3 eggs and will not always make good parents, and they can also be difficult to breed. If you are so fortunate as to have a hatching and the mother doesn’t want to do her part, be sure to check with a qualified breeder to raise these guys. They are very difficult to raise as day one babies.

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