Picture of a Black-headed Caique
Pionites melanocephala melanocephala

   The Black-headed Caique has a very active nature …guaranteed to get into anything and everything it can!

   The Black-headed Caique is not only one of the most colorful birds in the parrot family, but has a delightful and comical personality. They are very intelligent and quick to learn tricks. They can mimic many environmental sounds but Caiques in general are not known to be good talkers. Being quite social and outgoing, they are affectionate and inquisitive, and they love to show off.

   A distinguishing characteristic of the Caique is a lovely ruffled looking white breast and belly. This gave rise to it’s name. ‘Caique’ is a term used to describe a full-dress, white shirt, with a ruffled front.

To learn more about Caique parrots visit:
Guide to a Happy, Healthy Caique

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Psittaciformes
  • Family: Psittacidae
  • Genus: Pionites
  • Species: melanocephala melanocephala

Scientific name:

Pionites melanocephala


  • Black-headed Caique
    Pionites melanocephala melanocephala
  • (Berlepsch)
    Pionites melanocephala pallida


   The Black-headed Caique is found in South America north of the Amazon, from the Guianas westward to Colombia, Venezuela, and Peru. They inhabit the tree tops of tropical and savannah forests.


   Black-headed Caique has a mostly black head with the cheeks, throat, thighs and flanks an orange-yellow. They also have an orange band across the hind neck bordered by a few bluish feathers. The back, wings, rump and upper tail are green and the breast and belly are creamy-white. The tip of the tail is yellow. The beak is gray-black and the eyes are orangish-red.
   On juveniles the underside is more yellow, all orange and yellow parts are paler, the beak is horn colored, and the eye is dark brown.

Size – Weight:

   Mature birds are about 9″ (23cm) long from the head to the tip of the tail.

Care and feeding:

   A roomy cage is required unless the bird is to be let out for extended periods. Many birds can spend a good deal of their time on a play pen or parrot perch.
    In the wild these birds eat fruits, seeds, and berries from the tree tops. The Caique’s main diet should primarily be seeds, fruits, and green vegetables. A commercially prepared parrot mix or pelleted diet can also be beneficial.

   See About Caique Parrots: Housing and About Caique Parrots: Care and Feeding for more information.

Social Behaviors:

   Caiques enjoy human interaction as well as interaction with other birds. In the wild the Black-headed Caiques are very social birds usually seen in family groups or flocks of up to thirty birds. They are highly social birds with a very active nature.They will require a lot of interaction with either you or from another companion.
   But despite this overall affectionate nature, the Black-headed Caique can get rather grumpy and nippy and can be aggressive to other birds. They should never be left unsupervised with other pets

   See About Caique Parrots: Handling/Training for information on developing a well rounded Caique


   They are very intelligent, energetic, and constantly on the move. Love to climb, play, and chew. They will get into anything and everything made available to them. Provide lots of toys and branches, and rotate new bird toys on a regular basis.


  Black-headed Caiques are being bred successfully in captivity. The female will lay up to four eggs which incubate for about 25 days. The male will feed the female while she is brooding, and will join her in the nest box at various times during the day and at night. The hatchlings will leave the nest at about 14 weeks.


   Caiques in general have not been as available as other parrot species and are often quite a bit more expensive. However, the Black-headed Caique is well established and popular as both a pet and aviary bird and is frequently available.

Featured Image Credit: Tirriko, Pixabay