About the White Bellied Caique
(pronounced kye-eeks or Kye-ee-kayes) belong to the psittacine
genus Pionites. White-bellied caiques comprise three sub-species:
Pionites leucogaster, P. l. xanthomeria, and P. l. xanthurus.
The white-bellied caique is a small parrot, averaging 23
cm in length and 165 g in weight. With a helmet of bright
orange feathers, a brilliant yellow chin and snowy white
breast, white-bellies are certainly one of the most colorful
small parrots. There are color features that distinguish
the three white-bellied sub-species. All have white underparts,
but some differ in tail and thigh coloration. P. l. xanthomeria
has yellow thighs and a green tail. The back and wing feathers
are dark green, with wing coverts deep blue.
White-bellies are native to Brazil and parts of Peru and
Bolivia. They prefer lowland forests near watercourses.
Very social, white-bellied caiques travel in pairs or family
groups, feeding on rainforest fruits, nuts, vegetation and
seeds. Like most parrots, white bellied caiques like to
nest in cavities high in the canopy of rainforest trees.
These parrots lay anywhere from two to four small white
eggs which the female incubates. Incubation lasts around
26 days, during which the female rarely leaves the nest.
The male will forage and feed her while she sits the eggs.
The chicks hatch blind and helpless and both parents feed
and care for them. At about 14 weeks of age the chicks are
ready to leave the nest to begin foraging and feeding on
Like so many species of plants and animals in the region,
the white bellied caique is threatened with shrinking habitat,
as Brazil is losing rainforest at an alarming rate. The
wholesale destruction of habitat has contributed to the
decline of countless rainforest species, and if left to
continue will surely lead to the extinction of many.
Artificial Incubation: Nest boxes are checked
daily during the breeding season, which in Florida begins
in January and usually ends in June. Eggs are removed by
0900 hours and are weighed, measured for length and width,
labeled for species, date and cage number and placed in
an avian incubator. The incubator is maintained at (99.9
F) with 50% humidity. Chicks hatch on the 26th day of incubation.
Upon hatching, chicks are weighed, color-coded with a non-toxic
marker and placed in individual plastic cups lined with
soft absorbent cotton. Hatchlings are placed in an avian
brooder set at (97 F) and saturation humidity. Brooder temperatures
are lowered with chick age, usually in three to five degree
increments. Once chicks are feathered, brooder temperatures
are set to ambient room temperature.
Upon hatching, white-belly chicks are fed every 90 minutes
around-the-clock for the first five to seven days. The chicks
are fed a commercial parrot hand-feeding formula prepared
fresh for each feeding. Syringes are used to feed the formula,
which is heated to (100-105 F). Growth patterns indicate
that within the first five to seven days, a weight gain
of 15-20% over a single 24-hour period becomes a benchmark
for future development. Upon achieving this daily growth
rate, chicks "take off", and weight gains are
usually sustained at roughly 15% for the next few weeks.
After the first week, chicks are fed roughly every 2 1/2
hours, or whenever the crop is completely empty. After the
first four to five weeks chicks should be fed four times
per day. Weaning usually begins by week ten, with chicks
fully weaned by 14 weeks of age. Feedings are gradually
reduced at this time, and dietary additions such as millet
spray, banana, soaked monkey biscuits, whole wheat breads,
cooked rice, beans and pasta, as well as the full adult
diet of seeds and fruits are offered daily.