Housing Your Caique
Gone are the days when one small cage is all you need for your bird. Let's be honest, aren't we all glad to see those days gone? One small cage was never enough to keep a caique happy, healthy and engaged. Now that we know better, let's do better for our birds.
White-bellied and Black-headed caiques, like many parrots, are wonderful and unique pets but they don't exist just at ground level. They have big, beautiful fabulous wings and tails and are designed to fly. Caiques love to fly, especially young energetic birds. Older birds will settle in and may not fly as often as the babies do, but given the opportunity, flight is their main mode of movement. Yes, they do walk, climb and hop but when they have to cross open space or really get around, they will fly. When they want to get to safety they will also fly. When housing your caique you should definitely take flight into consideration.
You can do so by providing some or all of the following:
A large main cage
Safe spaces in your home to fly
A large outdoor aviary
Flight club (in some areas people organize safe indoor flying events for birds so they can fly in larger spaces)
Your caique will want to be part of the family so likely you will find that you need multiple safe areas for your caique to hang out.
You might want a main living cage, play areas in the living room or office, a sleep cage in the bedroom, a mobile playstand or two and a screened in porch or an aviary cage outside. This is all great enrichment and fun for your caique and may make it easier for your bird to accompany you around the house and to be part of your daily life. You can keep it simple to start with and see what works for you and your flock. Caiques are happy to hang out on you, sit on the back of your couch, swing from your curtains or sit on top your cabinets too.
The Main Cage - Your Caique's Own Personal Space
You will most certainly need a safe and adequately sized cage for your caique. Remember that your caique will need a variety of perches, swings, ladders, tunnels and toys as well as food and water stations. Everything will need to fit in his cage. Your bird may be small but he will have a lot of stuff.
The challenge is not just to fit it all in but to do so in a way that it is easy to maintain, clean and service. You will also need to consider how your bird will move about his cage and play.
I find that a cage that is larger is much easier to maintain, set up and clean. For this reason, I would opt for a cage which is at least 30" in either length or width.
We have used cages that are 32 x 21 x 36 inches, 48 x 24 x 30 inches and 64 x 21 x 36 inches (width, depth, height). All of these have worked well for us and our birds and are large enough for 1 or 2 caiques.
The first consideration is bar spacing. 1/2"-7/8" bar spacing is ideal for caiques (bar spacing is measured from the middle of one bar to the middle of the next bar, not the space in between). I have heard stories of birds getting their heads stuck between the bars of 1" spacing cages, especially if they are smaller caiques. Some large cages will have bar spacing that is too far apart for your caique, so be sure to check before purchasing.
After finding cages with suitable bar spacing you'll want to consider the overall size. The length and the width (or the floor space) is more important than the height. A cage that is 32"x 21" will accommodate one or two caiques and if you want them to have flying space you can get a larger double flight cage. If you don't have the space for that don't worry, they will be just as happy to fly around your house.
Typical cage sizes are:
A note about quality: You can use a parrot cage or a lighter gauge wire cage designed for smaller birds. I have noticed that with the lighter less expensive cages with 1/2" bar spacing, some caiques will pinch the bars together with their beaks and this can cause the paint to flake off. Such cages are economical and can work well in the beginning but you do need to make sure to buy a reputable brand with non toxic powder coating. Spend a few dollars more and buy something from an established cage maker.
A Cage or Carrier for Transport or Emergencies
You will also need a carrier or smaller cage for transport or emergencies. For safety during an emergency be sure to have one carrier per bird.
If you had your bird shipped to you, you will find the carrier to be convenient for future trips to the vet or in case of an emergency. They're also useful as a small cage or holding area if you need to contain your caique when they are not in their main cage.