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How To Train A Shy Caique

If your caique is cage-bound and afraid to interact with you, follow these pet birds tips to earn your caique's confidence and trust.

Sally Blanchard

Q: Here is the problem. My caique won’t come out of her bird cage unless I hold her and unglue each of her toes from her perch. I usually receive a couple of good bites. She is also a very unhappy bird when she is out of her cage.

white-bellied caique
Caiques aren't known for being shy, but that doesn't mean they can't be.

A: I have lived with my caique, Spike, for close to 20 years, and I believe that these little birds have very complex personalities. I recently read that the intelligence of a species has a lot to do with socialization. Caiques are usually clever and opinionated. In the wild, caiques live in fairly large groups and are usually quite gregarious.

I have found that when a pet caique wants to be left alone, he wants to be alone! After all this time, I can walk up to my caique's bird cage and tell almost immediately if he is in a social mood or not. If he isn’t and I don’t need to take him out for a specific reason, I just leave him alone.

With your question, I am missing information that would be very helpful to me. For example, it would help to know the age of your caique and if this is a continuing problem from when you first got her, or is it something that has happened recently.

Caiques are so full of adventure that most people don’t think of them as developing fearful or even phobic behavior; however, I have seen this problem in several caiques. Even Spike, who is generally a very curious bird, can become extremely fearful about certain things. He needs to feel secure that I will protect him in these situations.

Caiques Are Shier Than You Think
If your caique is young, I would presume that she was not well socialized to accept new adventure when she was a baby. A lot of people think that caiques develop and wean sooner than most parrots because they are smaller. This is not the case, and these spunky little parrots are often weaned too soon.

A single caique without other clutch mates might also become a more timid bird as it matures. Keep in mind that parrots are prey animals, and they depend on the security of their flock. Sometimes, for reasons that we do not completely understand, a pet bird will suddenly view its previously trusted caregiver as a predator.

This is not necessarily anything that the person did. Sometimes it just happens, but this is one reason why a parrot might refuse to come out of his cage. It will just get worse if he is forced, and the mistrust can create more serious problems. This might be a reason why your caique has become so cage-bound.

Re-Gain Trust With Your Caique
The key is to develop or re-win your caique's trust is by becoming submissive and giving the frightened parrot more control by not forcing her to come out. I recommend getting a simple T-stand with a food bowl at one end. Start by moving the stand closer to the cage over a few days. Then open the cage door and place the stand so the end of the perch without the food bowl sticks into the cage.

Don’t make a lot of eye contact with her and put some food treats into the bowl. Walk away and don’t stare at your caique to see what she is going to do, but check the situation out so you know what is going on. Repeat this process on a daily basis.

Eventually your caique will become comfortable with the stand as part of her "furniture.” After she has been coming out on the stand for a few days to get her treat, start moving closer to her cage. Once she is comfortable with you near the stand, pick it up and move it away from the cage. Eventually, you will need to move the stand to an area where she can’t see her bird cage. Be patient, and make sure that you are calm and relaxed when you get your caique out. Eventually, as you work to win your caique's trust, it will be easier to get her out of her bird cage. Mutual trust is critically important in the relationship between parrots and their owners.

Caique Facts
• Caiques are not sexually dimorphic, meaning that males and females cannot be determined visually.
• There doesn’t appear to significant behavioral differences between male caiques and female caiques.
• Female caiques are generally more expensive than male caiques because there are less of them available as pets.
• The white-bellied caique (Pionites leucogaster) is about 1/4 inch longer than the black-headed caique (Pionites melanocephala).

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Posted: May 16, 2012, 2:000 p.m. PDT

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