She was not quite what you’d call refined. She was not quite what you call unrefined. She was the kind of person who would keep a parrot – Mark Twain
Known for being playful and forming an inseparable bond with their human companion’s Caiques are the comedians of the parrot world.
These high-energy, stocky little scamps might not be the best of fliers, preferring to hitch a ride on their owner’s shoulders to get to wherever it is they want to go, but they’re far from lazy and spend their lives hopping from one adventure to another.
Because they’re always embroiled in some sort of mischief and are constantly on the go, they have, for a parrot, a relatively high metabolism, and as such Caiques are constantly in search of the food they need to fuel their high jinks and fun-filled lives.
In the wild, they tend to forage for food in the tops of the trees in the balconies of the rainforests and jungles that they live in, and mainly subsist on a diet of seeds, flowers, and, when the mood takes them, insects.
However, the Caiques preferred menu item of choice, whether they’re living in their natural environment or in captivity, is fruit. And if you want to keep your Caique happy, bright, and alert, you’ll need to ensure that the majority of their diet is filled with all of the delicious fruits that they adore.
Some Fruits Are More Equal Than Others
The most important rule to remember and the one that should always be at the top of your “What am I feeding my Caique” today list, is that the fresher the fruit is, the more your feathered friend is going to enjoy it.
Fresh fruit is like a red rag to a bull to a Caique, they can’t resist it, and as soon as it’s been cut up and prepared, they’ll make a beeline for it and eat until their bellies are ready to burst.
A top tip that was recommended to us by a long-standing member of one of the Caique forums that we tend to frequent is that if your bird is having trouble, or seems to be having difficulty trying to eat the fruit that you’ve prepared, slice it in small cubes and pieces. As long as it’s fresh, how the fruit is served won’t bother your Caique in the slightest.
And another friendly bit of advice that we’ve learned from bitter experience is if the fruit that you’re feeding your bird has been left out for longer than twenty-four hours and it hasn’t been finished, clean it up, recycle it and prepare a fresh batch.
If it’s been out for longer than a day, according to the internal dietary monitor that all parrots seem to be equipped with and constantly defer to, the fruit has sailed past its eat by date.
There are certain fruits that your Caique will tend to prefer, and will flock to if you add them to their daily diet.
Dark fruits like pomegranates and those that grow in abundance in the trees of the jungles and rainforest that they hail from such as pineapples, kiwi, bananas, and papaya are their fruit of choice as they are rich in the nutrients and natural sugars that they adore and their body chemistry and biology are designed to process.
Caiques are also partial to apples, oranges, strawberries, blueberries, and tomatoes, even though they weren’t specifically engineered by mother nature to eat them.
Another of those rules that nobody actually tells you about, but you just sort of pick up along the way is that if you can remove the seeds from the fruit that you’re preparing before you feed it to your bird, make sure you do.
Believe it or not, some seeds are a choking hazard and can be lethal, so take them out and get rid of them before your bird gets his or her beak stuck into the fruit.
The No-Fly Fruit List
Just because they adore fruit and their inner parrot radar will guide them straight to it, it doesn’t mean that Caiques can, or should eat any fruit that they can lay their beaks on.
Fruit that’s naturally high in sugar like grapes should be fed to them sparingly if at all, and any fruit that contains oxalic acid like rhubarb shouldn’t feature on your bird’s menu as it can make them ill.
While it’s generally okay to feed them raisins, it’s also a good idea to check whether or not they’ve been preserved or treated with sulfur before you feed them to your bird, as it doesn’t agree with a Caiques biology and can have a devastating effect on their general health and wellbeing.
Can Caiques Eat Mango?
Can a bird that’s native to the Tropics eat a tropical fruit? When it’s rephrased like that, it might seem like a slightly redundant question, but it is important to know what a Caique can and can’t eat and which fruits should be part of its daily diet.
And you’re right to ask the question, as some parrot owners claim that mango is toxic to caiques, while others are convinced it’s beneficial to their dietary and general wellbeing. We fall into the latter camp, as we’ve yet to encounter a caique who doesn’t enjoy mango and have never heard of a bird who suffered any ill effects after eating it.
We’ve already discussed how important fruit is to the general health well being of parrots and how vital it is that any menu that you put together for your bird adheres as closely as possible to one that Caiques would eat in the wild, and mangoes should play a prominent part on that menu.
They’re a fruit that the bird would eat in their natural environment and you should encourage your caique to eat as much of it as you possibly can. It’ll also add a little variety, flavor, and color to their diet, and should help to motivate and inspire them to eat the other fruit that you prepare.
As it’s a relatively soft fruit, it’s also easy to dice and prepare for your bird, which is another tick in the fruits that I should feed to my Caique box.
Can Caiques Eat Blackberries?
If you want your Caique to be your best friend for life, then you’ll need to include blackberries in your bird’s menu. They adore seasonal fruits like raspberries and blackberries, but just because they love these soft fruits it doesn’t mean that the same fruits feel the same way about the Caique.
Blackberries can have an unfortunate effect on the digestive system of a Caique and can change the color of their droppings from bright white to midnight black.
It isn’t anything that you should, or need to worry about though, as the discoloration doesn’t, and won’t have any impact on the wellbeing of your Caique, but it can be a little scary the first time you see it.
So, as long as you’re ready and prepared for the inevitable outcome, you should definitely add blackberries, when they come into season, to your Caiques diet.
Can Caiques Eat Cashews?
You’re probably thinking something along the lines of “Don’t parrots eat nuts in the wild? So that means I can feed cashews to my Caique” and you’re absolutely right.
Parrots do eat nuts in the wild, and you absolutely can feed cashews to your Caique. But just because you can do something, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should do something.
There is one overriding reason why nuts, cashews, or any other variety of the tasty delicacy, shouldn’t form part of your Caiques daily diet and that’s entirely due to the fat content.
Cashews are sky-high in natural fat, they’re saturated in it and too much fat in your Caiques diet, just like too much fat in your own diet, isn’t healthy and shouldn’t be encouraged. That doesn’t mean that you can give your bird cashews, you can.
Just don’t feed them to your friend all the time. Think of them as an occasional treat, and it’ll be fine to add them to your Caiques diet every now and then.
Can Caiques Eat Sunflower Seeds?
There’s a reason why parrots and sunflower seeds have become inseparable in the minds of parrot lovers everywhere and, like love and marriage and peaches and cream, it seems like you can’t have one without the other, and that’s because parrots, caiques included, love Sunflower seeds.
But like cashews, while you can feed them to your caique, it doesn’t mean that you should feed them to him or her.
The cashew caution rule, because of their high-fat content, applies to sunflower seeds too. The amount of fat that a caique has in its diet shouldn’t exceed fifteen percent of its total daily food intake, so while they can eat, and do enjoy sunflower seeds they shouldn’t be an everyday item on your bird’s menu.
If you were to feed your caique sunflower seeds every single day, it would be the equivalent of you eating junk food every day of your life. You know how bad that would be for you, that’s why you don’t do it, but it’s nice to have it every once in a while.
That’s how you should think of sunflower seeds, as junk food for your caique. It’s nice to feed them to your bird every now and then, but they aren’t something that any caique should eat every single day.
What Can Caiques Not Eat?
The list of what you shouldn’t feed to your caique because of the toxic effect that it can have on their digestive system and health is far longer and much more extensive than the list of things that they should eat.
Generally speaking, you’ll need to make sure that your caique avoids consuming any alcohol (which seems obvious but had to be included just in case), any foods that contain cocoa or caffeine (so that means no chocolate for your feathered friend), any food that is rich in oxalic acid (such as rhubarb), or any food that is part of the allium family (onions, garlic, and chives).
If you’re in any doubt about what you can and can’t feed to your bird, always defer to their preferred food of choice, fruit. It’s better to be safe than sorry.