|Caique Parrot - Photo by Nik Voon|
The cage- this is the most important aspect of your bird's environment and one that needs the most consideration. Powder coating or stainless steel finish depends on your budget, but no matter the finish, when looking at a cage consider the various aspects. Cage size is recommended at 24 by 36, with less than one-inch bar spacing. Cages that open at the top are not recommended and look for cages that have parallel bars so your bird can easily navigate. The author of this article prefers flat top cages, but it all boils down to personal preference. Food and water dishes that are extended outside of the cage (giving more room within the inside of the cage) are recommended.
Perches- a minimum of 5 is recommended. Choose different textures, shapes, and sizes, to give your bird a variety of to perch upon. Caiques like to chew and shred, so natural branches that have bark attached are recommended so the bird can take joy in stripping the perch of its bark. Cholla perches, that are made of a natural cactus material, are also enjoyed. Slick perches like manzanita and dragonwood are not encouraged. Rope perches are a favorite among caiques, as they can bounce and play, chew and rub on the soft cotton material.
Food Dishes- stainless steel or ceramic are encouraged. Purchase an extra set so that you can throw the dirty ones in the dishwasher and still have a clean set on hand. Stainless steel dishes are often sold as ‘coop cups’ and can be purchased to fit your already existing food dish holder or come with their own attachment so the cups can be placed strategically within the cage. Caiques have a tendency to enjoy tipping over their food dish, so consider a dish such as the Quick Loc Crock, which literally locks in place.
Toys- Caiques love playing with toys- that’s a fact. The brighter, the bolder, the nosier- the better. Quick hint- check out the baby section of your local discount store. Hard plastic keys, teething rings, and rattles are bird safe and caique fun. Tried and true bird toys include the shreddable Parrot Pinatas, the mind-bending Crazy Leather Box, or the chewable Brainiac block. All of these toys challenge your bird's skills and increase activity while elevating boredom. The recommended number of toys is no less than 5 at one time in the bird's cage. With a caique, the more, the better, so don’t be stingy when it comes to playing items.
Emergency Medical Kit - If your bird breaks a blood feather, bangs a toenail, or injuries himself in any way, you want to be prepared. Accidents do happen, and caiques seem to be especially accident prone. A good basic medical kit will include self-adhering gauze (vetwrap is a popular choice), clean gauze, tweezers, hemostats, a pair of sharp scissors, antibacterial cream, and a heat pack. Many different types of medical kits are included, and the more comprehensive ones contain everything from emergency hand-feeding formula to forms that include your vet's contact information.
The Water Bottle- Caiques are bird chef want-to-be. Their specialty? Parrot stew. Whatever can go in the pot- er, in this cage, water dish- will. It can make providing a clean source of water frustrating at times. Especially when you go to change the water and you wonder why how on earth it turned a bright blue color, and what the heck are those floatie things? Trust me, you don’t want to ask questions. Some caiques, intelligent as they may be, don’t seem to realize that dunking that big chunk of brightly colored wood in the water doesn’t make the wood any easier to chew. There is a solution- water bottles. A water bottle can be hung, providing your pet with a constant source of fresh water, even if he has turned the once clean bowl of water into something less then delightful. When purchasing a water bottle, the recommended ones are made of glass (shy away from thinking plastic ones) and have stainless steel spouts and outfittings. Lixit brand is highly recommended.
The Snuggle Buddy- while this is the name of an actual product, in this article we refer to snuggle buddy as anything that your bird likes to sleep next to/in at night. Most caiques enjoy having a ‘happy hut’ type of tent to sleep in at night. There are a variety of tents and huts available for purchase. Looks for one made of long last material such as fleece, with the hanging attachments made of something similar to plastic chain link. Otherwise, the attachments that hold the hut to the cage can be easily chewed through by a bored bird. Other snuggle materials can include fleece swings, large cotton rope toy for the bird to snuggle, and other like materials.
Foraging system- Foraging is an important part of your birds wild, natural behavior. While we highly encourage a foraging model feeding system, because this theory and research are still relatively new and mainstream, we are categorizing a foraging system as an ‘accessory’ rather than an immediately required part of your bird's environment. Creative Foraging Systems is a new company that has a fantastic line of feeders and toys that are perfect for caiques. Allowing your bird to work for their food lets them re-create natural behavior that can potentially curb future behavioral issues. You have many options and choices when it comes to foraging, but we most highly recommend a foraging system as the main feeder and an accessory like the ever popular Crazy Maze as a supplemental item.
This is just a sampling of items that can be purchased for your bird, and come highly recommended by owners. Look for other articles that include in-depth product reviews, food recommendations, play gym accommodations, and much more.