Setting Up Caique Pairs for Breeding
Care should be taken maintain the genetic purity of Caiques in captivity. The White-bellied and Black-headed Caiques are not color variations of the same species; they are separate species and should not be bred together. Caiques and most other parrots are no longer imported into the Unites States, therefore it is important to preserve the bloodlines which are represented.
Many pet owners like to have one bird of each species,
but only true pairs should be allowed to breed.
Like many species of parrots, Caiques are monomorphic, both sexes are identical in appearance. To be certain to have a "true" pair for breeding they must be DNA or surgically sexed. DNA sexing is non invasive and can be done using a drop of blood from a clipped toenail or from a few freshly pulled breast feathers. Surgically sexing is done under anesthesia by a veterinarian using an endoscope. Surgical sexing has the added bonus of being able to determine if the bird is sexually mature and if there are any abnormalities which may affect the health or breeding ability of the bird.
When introducing Caiques caution must be exercised, particularly if the birds are mature. Birds that have been kept singly for a longer period of time are often more receptive to a mate than a bird who very recently had a mate or companion. If a former mate is still on the premises, they should be out of sight and sound of each other. While with some pairs it may be "love at first sight", others can take a year or longer to bond strongly enough to breed. When my pet Black-headed hen "Oliv-her" lost her mate of 11 years (they were raised together from babies), we later introduced an 8 year-old male. It took almost a full year for them to bond and over two years until fertile eggs were produced.
I have had good breeding results from pairs that have been together since youngsters and even better from birds that are allowed to grow up in a flock and allowed to choose a mate. Whenever possible, birds held back as future breeders are flocked until at least two years old and then set up as pairs in breeder cages. Flock cages are also given nestboxes and it is not unusual for multiple birds to share a large box for sleeping.
Pets and Breeding
Many Caique pairs breed successfully in a pet environment. Some will continue to allow interaction with people while they are incubating their eggs, and even while rearing their chicks. Others will not tolerate this, but will become good-natured pets again once breeding and/or chick rearing is over. Some pairs will even allow "co-parenting" by the caregiver. However, if a visit to the nest is ever considered an intrusion, chicks can be injured, or even killed, in a parent's attempt to "protect" them.
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