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One thing I find rather frustrating about keeping caiques in the home is that so little is known about them. We know there are two species and four sub-species. We know they like to reside in the forest canopy of their natural environment. We have a general idea of their range and to which countries they are native to. We think we have an idea of which foods they eat in the wild- over at the Caique Site, John Micmichael has documented a small list of foods that caiques eat in the wild.

But other then that- what do we know? Their sleeping or foraging habits, their nesting habits? Unlike macaws and cockatoos or other parrot species who have been studied extensively in their natural habitats, we know next to nothing about these delightful little birds called caiques. People argue over whether or not to give them sleeping quarters such as a nextbox year round- in countries such as Germany where they are avicultural requirements and minimums, this is a must. Why? What leads us to that conclusion?

When people ask about the specific dietary requirements of caiques, no one can answer honestly, because we don't know. Oh, we can guess about their needs- its been said they need a higher fruit content, perhaps even supplement with nectar like a lori and fresh flowers- but why? What if we are leaving out an important aspect of our birds diet because we have not sought to find the true answer.

People fight all the time for the funds to get to go and observe a species in its natural habitat, log the data and bring that information back to share with the avicultural community in hopes of better understanding our parrots and enriching their lives. Shouldn't we do the same for our caiques? I've donated to yellow eared conure conservation efforts, hyacinth, spix, lears, and blue throat macaw efforts, but have yet to come across a person, group or some such organization that has stood up and said: 'I am fighting for the right of the caique parrot. I want to know more about their habits so that I can make my birds at home happy and healthy and allow them to live out their natural lives.'

Isn't it time?

Your first bird

Its a commonly enough asked question, especially among birdie minded folk. 'What was your first bird? How old where you when you got it?"

I have another question, birdie folk. When was the first time you realized you were destined to become a bird owner? I know some people have grown up around parrots and it just seems to come naturally, while others just got stuck with that odd pet and poof- love at first site. But do you ever look back at the years before your house was a live-in jungle and wonder if you ever saw warning signs of what the years ahead were destined to be like?

I was chatting with one of my best friends via IM the other day. Her and I go way back. We met in 3rd grade elementary school and were in the same class every year until I moved away- have stayed in constant contact ever since. I had pulled out this box of pictures that had gotten sucked into some unknown closet vortex (you know the type...) and was just reviewing the pictures. It was a bunch of pictures of me, my friend, and our 'old gang' from elementary school. Good times, good times.

So here we are getting all nostalgic and sappy, and memories are flooding back like everything happened just yesterday. And I remember the moment that I will define as my first 'birdie moment'. AKA destined to clean up bird poop for the rest of my life :D

Elementary school, 4th grade.

Aww, come on folks. Don't some of you struggle to know WHY one day the urge hits you to drop an insane amount of money on a pile of feathers that squawks, bites, poops, flings food all over your walls and carpet, and makes your neighbors pull their hair in frustration? All while you are looking on with adoration in your eyes, of course.

I remember growing up and thinking parrots were cool. I remember someone in my 6th grade class bringing in their blue and gold macaw, and thinking it was a pirate parrot. *insert rolling of the eyes here*

But seriously. Wouldn't you love to have that defining moment in your life and bottle it, preserve it somehow, and look back, perhaps give your past self a little shake and scream 'WHAT THE HECK WERE YOU THINKING?!'


Back to my story.

It was fourth grade. We were in the artsy phase of life. You know what I am talking about... lots of chorus, hands on learning, and lots of art classes. I remember lots of play-acting at recess, too. I grew up with a cat or two around the house, a dog (m y grandparents) and the occasional fish, but nothing more exotic.

I remember one day drawing what I considered the classic 'parrot'- long tail, big beak, wings. Flashy bright colors. I thought it was the coolest thing since sliced bread. Cut the little figure out, and to make it really seem lifelike, make a pesudo ring out of paper which I promptly glued the parrots feet too. Attach the ring to your finger, and with some maneuvering, the parrot could stand up on his own! Err... wave in the wind? Flap and catch the breeze?

Anyhow. I was the hit of the playground. I had a pet bird! Take that contraption out to recess and before you know it everyone was on that piece of paper like you thought it was a bowl full of sugar candy. Soon my time in class...err... extra time, was spent making paper parrots for friends. I bet during recess the monitors were scratching their heads wondering what fad was this- everyone seemed to be walking around with parrots!

Sadly I don't know whatever happened to my original Polly. I guess he/she got lost in the shuffle of life. Funny how memories like that get buried- much like those pictures did, and resurface after time.

Polly the paper parrot, I salute you!!!

Ode to a Captive Parrot

Parrots have given up a lot for us. They have given up their natural lives as they know it- and even though parrots in the North American Market today are domestically bred, they still for all genetic and instinctual purposes, are wild animals.

This is, Ode to a Captive Parrot.

created by me, but pictures rights go to various sources off the internet. Text is all mine.

Things are a'changing

The past couple days, if you are one of the rare people who might check the site regularly, you will have noticed the site has been undergoing some weird things. No worries! Thats just me, playing :-) I am putting up a new, easier to navigate format, along with some neat updated features to make Caique Crazy better then ever before. Please hang in there - I only do so much at a time, and often have to walk away from the computer and come back to the project later.

Later on if you see any missing links, any missing pictures, please drop me a line and let me know!

Just a quickee update- the new main page layout is ALMOST done! WOOHOO. I just have to play with the colors a bit more.. because sky blue and light green do not go well. Format a couple more things, and all should be ready! I will be making some small changes to the format of the internal pages as well, so look for those too :)

Next on the list- tackle the forum layout. But I think I need a break before my head implodes.

Oh, and some people have been asking what the heck is up with the layout, LOL. Lord of the Rings? Ok, Ok. Here is the scoop-
I found the layout on another free for grabs blog and loved the look. You gotta admit- its pretty darn spiffy. I think its relaxing. I liked it so much I am formatting the rest of the site to match... I am calling it 'The Hobbit meets Victorian Era', lol. We have had so many wild and zany colors, its time for a new look. And I think it fits in nicely with the weather changing- winter is just around the corner folks!

I've started doing a link exchange with other bird related blogs- if you are interested in swapping links, let me know! I really need to kick myself in the butt and get this place up and running... I've been a bit lax about it. Anyhow... thats all for now. Enjoy!

Rest In Peace Alex


WALTHAM, MA (SEPTEMBER 10, 2007)—Alex, the world renowned African Grey parrot made famous by the ground-breaking cognition and communication research conducted by Irene Pepperberg, Ph.D., died at the age of 31 on September 6, 2007. Dr. Pepperberg’s pioneering research resulted in Alex learning elements of English speech to identify 50 different objects, 7 colors, 5 shapes, quantities up to and including 6 and a zero-like concept. He used phrases such as “I want X” and “Wanna go Y”, where X and Y were appropriate object and location labels. He acquired concepts of categories, bigger and smaller, same-different, and absence. Alex combined his labels to identify, request, refuse, and categorize more than 100 different items demonstrating a level and scope of cognitive abilities never expected in an avian species. Pepperberg says that Alex showed the emotional equivalent of a 2 year-old child and intellectual equivalent of a 5 year-old. Her research with Alex shattered the generally held notion that parrots are only capable of mindless vocal mimicry.

In 1973, Dr. Pepperberg was working on her doctoral thesis in theoretical chemistry at Harvard University when she watched Nova programs on signing chimps, dolphin communication and, most notably, on why birds sing. She realized that the fields of avian cognition and communication were not only of personal interest to her but relatively uncharted territory. When she finished her thesis, she left the field of chemistry to pursue a new direction—to explore the depths of the avian mind. She decided to conduct her research with an African Grey parrot. In order to assure she was working with a bird representative of its species, she asked the shop owner to randomly choose any African Grey from his collection. It was Alex. And so the 1-year old Alex, his name an acronym for the research project, Avian Learning EXperiment, became an integral part of Pepperberg’s life and the pioneering studies she was about to embark upon.

Over the course of 30 years of research, Dr. Pepperberg and Alex revolutionized the notions of how birds think and communicate. What Alex taught Dr. Pepperberg about cognition and communication has been applied to therapies to help children with learning disabilities. Alex’s learning process is based on the rival-model technique in which two humans demonstrate to the bird what is to be learned. Alex and Dr. Pepperberg have been affiliated with Purdue University, Northwestern University, the University of Arizona, the MIT Media Lab, the Radcliffe Institute, and most recently, Harvard University and Brandeis University.
Alex has been featured worldwide on numerous science programs including the BBC, NHK, Discovery and PBS. He is well known for his interactions with Alan Alda in an episode of Scientific American Frontiers on PBS and from an episode of the famed PBS Nature series called “Look Who’s Talking.” Reports on Alex’s accomplishments have appeared in the popular press and international news from USA Today to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. The Science Times section of the New York Times featured Alex in a front-page story in 1999. That same year, Dr. Pepperberg published The Alex Studies, a comprehensive review of her decades of learning about learning from Alex. Many other television appearances and newspaper articles followed.

Alex was found to be in good health at his most recent annual physical about two weeks ago. According to the vet who conducted the necropsy, there was no obvious cause of death. Dr. Pepperberg will continue her innovative research program at Harvard and Brandeis University with Griffin and Arthur, two other young African Grey parrots who have been a part of the ongoing research program.

Alex has left a significant legacy—not only have he and Dr. Pepperberg and their landmark experiments in modern comparative psychology changed our views of the capabilities of avian minds, but they have forever changed our perception of the term “bird brains.”

For press contacts:
The Alex Foundation and Dr. Pepperberg can be reached by e-mail at the or by phone at 781-736-2195.

If you choose to help support this research, please consider making a donation in Alex's memory to The Alex Foundation, c/o Dr. Irene Pepperberg, Department of Psychology/MS-062, 415 South Street, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA 02454.

For Alex

I knew you not my friend but you touched my life
Not only mine but that also of my wife
You see, before we learned of you
All we knew is that budgies come in blue

Well now it’s your entire fault
That I can’t blame the Supreme Gestalt
That forever and a day
I will be loved by something Grey

My two Grey life’s companions want to thank you
For opening our eyes and expanding our minds
For everything you have done and still will do
For the benefit of Psittacenes and Human kinds

With much love and the greatest respect
Michael L. Graham