Black Headed Caique parrot standing on one leg and eating food in the wild

BLACK HEADED CAIQUE

Scientific Name: Pionites melanocephalus

Other Common Names:  Black Headed Parrot, Black-Capped Parrot or Pallid Parrot

Native Country: Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela

Habitat:  Amazon rainforest or woodland

Height (Head to Tail): 23cm, Medium Size

Lifespan: up to 40 years

Weight: 150 – 155 grams

Black Headed Caique – Appearance:

As the name suggests, Blacked Headed Caique’s have a prominent black crown, similar to the Masked Lovebird. The cheeks as well as the upper legs are covered in yellow and orange feathers. Lastly the belly area is white in contrast to the tail and wings which is a beautiful shamrock green. There are two sub species which are distinguished by their geographical location, P. m. melanocephalus from the east and P. m. pallidus from the west.

Black Headed Caique – Diet:

70% High Quality Pellet Mix – A staple fortified pellet diet that is tailored for Caiques. Popular brands specializing in caique diets include Vetafarm South American Mix, Vetafarm Parrot Essentials Pellet, Zupreem Natural, Roudybush 24/7 or Harrison’s High Potency Coarse or Fine Mix

Vetafarm Parrot Essentials Maintenance FormulaVetafarm Parrot Essentials Complete Diet 2kg
harrisons high potency fine Harrison’s Bird Foods High Potency Fine 1lb
roudybush signature california blend RoudyBush California Blend Bird Food

15% Fresh Fruit and Vegetables – Mango, Pineapples, Paw Paw, Peaches, Passionfruit, Apple, Banana, Carrot, Pumpkin, Sweet Potato

10% Sprouted Seed – Sunflower, Mung, Chickpea, Safflower or Adzuki. Learn how to make your own sprout seed mix here.

5% Treats – Millet spray, Nuts, Biscuits/Egg mix

Headshot Close up of Blacked Headed Caique inside cage enclosure
Image Credits: Peter Békési, CC BY-SA 2.0 Wiki Commons

Black Headed Caique – Essentials:

When bringing your little sun conure home for the first time, you will need to ensure you have the basics sorted beforehand.

  • Bird Cage – at least 60cm x 60cm x 90cm (W x L x H) – the bigger the better, to allow plenty of room for toys and exercise as Caique’s are very playful birds. It’s best to line the cage with newspaper to easily clean their droppings/mess.
  • Cage Cover – any cloth that covers 90% of the cage so the bird can sleep in darkness e.g. light blanket
  • Perch – at least two perches, preferably branches or cement to keep their nails naturally trimmed.
  • Toys – at least 3 toys to begin with for mental stimulation/entertainment; highly recommend hoops, colorful, rattling and ringing toys e.g. bells, colorful beads, ladders, hoops
  • Bowls – 3x bowls (one for seeds, one for fresh fruit/vegetables and the other for water); your bird might use the water bowl to bath too, that’s completely fine!

Still not sure? Click here to download our 100% FREE bird care checklist here.

Black Headed Caique – Behavior:

  • Socialization: Caique’s are energetic, cheeky and playful birds that will keep you entertained for ages. Be prepared to show plenty of love and attention, otherwise keep them in pairs. They can be temperamental at times or show a slight temper towards other birds, therefore it’s recommended to only keep a single pair in a cage.

  • Vocalization: Loud and noisy birds that vocalize using shrieks, usually prevalent towards the morning or when in need of attention or excited. Their talking ability is very limited but Caique’s have the capacity to mimic sounds such as a whistle or door bell ring.

Black Headed Caique – Breeding:

Male and Female pair of breeding Blacked Headed Caique parrots inside cage with nestbox and tree branches

Although Black Headed Caique’s adult plumage is visible at 1-2 years, the age sexual maturity is reached is approx. 3-4 years. Unfortunately Caique’s are not dimorphic, so to determine their gender a DNA test is required.

Other requirements for breeding are mentioned below:

  • Requirements:
    • Rectangle shaped Nest box made from pine or chipboard (min. dimensions 40x60x45cm – HxWxL)
    • Nest box filling – non-toxic wood shavings or saw dust
    • You may offer a breeding food mix if available near you
  • Mating Partner: monogamous – one partner for life
  • Breeding Season: late Spring
  • Clutch Frequency: 1 – 2 clutches per year
  • Clutch Quantity: 2 – 4 eggs per clutch
  • Incubation Period: 25 – 26 days
  • Weaning: 10 weeks

Black Headed Caique – Health:

Common IssueSymptoms Causes
Psittacosis Appetite loss, fluffed feathers, vomiting, nasal/ocular discharge, diarrhea or pale green feces, breathing difficulties, conjunctivitis, minimal physical movement, tremorsBacteria: Chlamydia psittaci contracted via infected dried saliva, feathers, mucous and feces
Feather PluckingForm of self mutilation by plucking their own feathers, leaving bald patches of skinBoredom, lack of mental stimulation, poor diet, illness, stress
Psittacine Beak & Feather DiseaseSharp, clubbed or abnormally short feathers, pigment loss in colored feathers, bloody feather shafts Beak & Feather Disease Virus (BFDV) contracted from other infected birds e.g. oral – parent feeding young or ingestion of virus particles in dust feces
AspergillosisWeight loss, lethargy, constantly fluffed feathers, difficulty breathing, cloudy eyes, droopy wingsAspergillus fungus: exposure to spores found in dust, mold, soil – mainly affects malnourished or immunocompromised birds
MalnutritionNasal discharge, sneezing, wheezing conjunctivitis, poor feather quality, weakness, egg binding, embryonic death Vitamin A or Calcium deficiency
WormsDiarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, malnutrition or blood in fecesAscaris roundworm or flatworms – eggs passed in droppings

Did You Know?

1. If you’re lucky enough, you might see an excited Caique jump or even hop!

2. Baby Black Headed Caique’s are sold for more than $1,500 AUD

3. Caique’s can moon-walk just like Michael Jackson. Don’t believe me, check it out below!


Sub-Species Gallery: