The Black-headed Caique: An Aussie Overview


The Caiques (pronounced CAKE in the land down under) have long appealed to Australian aviculturalist’s and many tell of their desire to keep this species having arisen after seeing them in Parrot reference books many years ago. Their appeal lies in their overall charm, which includes their inquisitive and playing nature and beautifully adorned plumage. It is safe to say that they are widely referred to as clowns for their habit of bounding about the aviary and putting on a range of displays.

Fortunately Caiques are regularly bred within Australia and are now well and truly held in secure numbers. The Black- headed Caique is held in greater numbers than the White- bellied Caique, which is also quite popular. This article though will focus on the keeping and breeding of the Black- headed Caique within Australia and take a look at a mutation that is currently being worked on by a number of breeders. It can be said that much of what is said here about the Black- headed Caique and its care is not dissimilar to the care given to White-bellied Caiques within Australia.


Whilst native Australian bird species may require registration with a state or territory authority the same cannot be said for the exotic species. Some states have restrictions on a number of bird species entering their borders however this does not apply for the majority of Australian states or Territories. At one stage almost all exotic species with the exception of a small number of commonly held exotics were required to be registered.

Parent reared Caiques

These were registered with the National Exotic Bird Registry Scheme or NEBRS as it still commonly referred to. Breeders joined NEBRS and recorded any transactions, breedings or deaths surrounding exotic birds and these records were sent back to a centralised authority at a national level as it was federally controlled and not controlled by states or Territories. NEBRS was eventually dropped and other measures put in place a number of years down the track to prevent any smuggling of species into the country from occurring. Though it is questionable as to whether these measures worked as the newer scheme was and is still voluntary.


The suspended aviary is by far the most common choice of housing for many species of Parrot within Australia and this too applies for the Black-headed Caique. Although some keep their Black-headed Caiques in conventional aviaries the majority use suspendeds. It is generally recommended by breeders of Black-headed Caiques in Australia that these birds be held as pairs in their own aviary due that the aviary be a minimum length of 3 metres regardless of it being conventional or suspended. In terms of aviaries housed in banks the aviaries adjoining are usually double wired or full partitioned to prevent toe biting etc.

Suspended aviaries are ideal for these canopy dwelling birds that love to bathe and flick their food onto the aviary floor and walls. They will often take a chunk of food, fly to the perch and drop the food item once finished...