Charming Small Parrots as Pets

Close up of a caique with black, yellow, orange, and white colori
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If you want a bird that is beautiful, intelligent, active, and very entertaining, a caique may be the bird for you. These lively little parrots pack a lot of personality into a tiny bundle of feathers and have easily made a place for themselves in the homes and hearts of countless bird enthusiasts.

Overview of Caiques

  • Common Names: Black-headed caique, white-bellied caique, seven-color parrot, dancing parrot, yellow-thighed caique
  • Scientific Names: Black Headed Caique (Pionites melanocephala), White Bellied Caique (Pionites leucogaster)
  • Origin: the Amazon Rainforest
  • Size: 9 to 10 inches in length from the beak to the end of the tail feathers
  • Average Lifespan: Caiques live about 20 years.


Caiques are known for the strong bonds that they can form with humans, so if you're looking for a new best friend, this may be the species for you. Caiques are playful, comical little birds who enjoy activities and the opportunity to explore. Some caiques may learn to speak a few words, but most prefer to stick to "bird speak". Caiques usually do well alone or in pairs, but be careful not to cage a caique with a bird of another species as they can become aggressive and deliver surprisingly harsh bites.


Black-headed caiques have mostly black heads with orange cheeks and a green streak under their eyes. Their wings and upper tailfeathers are a beautiful green, and they sport a beige colored abdomen with gray legs and a gray beak.

White-headed caiques have orange and yellow heads, green wings and tails, white abdomens, pink legs, and horn colored beaks.

Diet and Nutrition

Caiques do best on a fresh diet of nutritious fruits, vegetables, nuts, and beans, and should be supplemented with a high-quality diet of extruded pellets. As with all bird species, clean, fresh water should be made available at all times.

Vegetables such as leafy greens like swiss chard, watercress, kale, or collard greens are nutritious additions to their diet. Fresh fruit makes a wonderful topping for their vegetables. A dash of healthy seed such as chia seed here and there is fine but refrain from an ​all seed diet as it will have dire consequences.


Caiques are active little birds and are unique in the fact that they seem to prefer to walk more often than fly. A caique should be given a minimum of one hour outside the cage each day to hop around, exercise his strong leg muscles, and do a bit of supervised exploring. Care must be taken to provide a caique with plenty of toys so he can exercise his beak. This play also helps wear down his beak which helps to keep it in good shape. Caiques enjoy floor time. You will enjoy watching them on the floor or any large flat surface because they have a unique "hop" that is charming and endearing. They appear to be a windup tin toy that hops along in a very amusing way. 

Caiques as Pets

In general, a caique would be a good choice for a family or person that wants to keep just a pair. They are not known for being especially friendly with other species but easily form bonds with humans who show them adequate love and attention.

They can be quite affectionate and enjoy time playing with the human companion or just sitting with them. 

Caiques must be given plenty of play time, and must certainly be showered with plenty of positive interaction, but they are usually able to entertain themselves for short periods of time, making them a good choice for working bird owners. They are also relatively small, which makes them appealing to those who dwell in apartments and condominiums.

Although caiques are not known to be particularly loud birds, they can and do emit calls that are very high-pitched and shrill. It would be a good idea to visit the caique that you are thinking of bringing home so you have a good idea what their vocal abilities are. With a lifespan of 20-plus years, you will want to ensure that you can handle their vocalizations.

Edited By: Patricia Sund