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Glossary

This is a glossary of terms related to caiques, parrots and other birds.

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Perhaps the largest online glossary of bird terms is at this Cornell University website. This is a PDF file.

Terms related to bird anatomy may be found in the Manual of Ornithology by N.S. Proctor and P.J. Lynch, Yale University, New Haven, 1993.

A large list of terms related to all types of birds is given in A New Dictionary of Birds edited by A.L. Thomson, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1964.

Additional terms and other definitions may be be found at Bird On. Click on the dictionary to see the selection.

Acropodium. The dorsal (upper) surface of the toes.

ad libitum. Literally means at liberty. When used in reference to animals it means the animal or bird is free to eat whenever it wants. Most people allow their caiques to eat pellets and fruits ad libitum. Many, however, restrict their access to seeds.

Addle. More commonly “addled egg.” This is a disruption in the egg yolk vitelline membrane that allows the yolk to mix with the white. This results in the death of the embryo. This can be seen as an atypical turbidity of the egg when it is candled. Addling can be caused by severe or frequent mechanical shaking, bacterial invasion, etc. Addling is sometimes purposely done to prevent reproduction and is now recommended for controlling unwanted resident populations of Canadian geese.

Admaxillary pads. This is a term I invented for the soft fleshy pads at the commissures of the beaks of caique chicks. These pads generally persist longer on birds reared by the parent than on hand-reared chicks. Pressing lightly on them stimulates the chick to pump for food. These pads disappear after weaning.

Aflatoxin. A kind of toxin or poison produced by the mold Aspergillus flavus. It is a particular problem for stored grain and peanuts. It is toxic to both birds and humans. There are a number of other toxins synthesized by molds. You should immediately dispose of any seed or peanuts that are even a bit moldy.

Aglets. The bands on the ends of the shoelaces. These are usually made of plastic and are a favorite chew toy of caiques as they rub against your shoe.

Agonistic threat display. This is the type of display birds make when they threaten combat. This display is often seen when they feel threatened or cornered. Caiques fluff up their feathers to appear larger, bow up and down, and growl. The hopping by caiques may also be a part of this display.

Air sac. In contrast to mammals, most birds have air sacs that connect to the lungs. They have one interclavicular and one clavicular air sac, and pairs of the cranial, thoracic, and abdominal air sacs. This also means they get a disease that you will never get, i.e., saculitis. During surgical sexing the caudal air sac must be punctured in order to see the gonads. The bird can breathe through these air sacs and this is often used to advantage by veterinarians when they must do surgery on the throat area.

Ala membrana. The membrane on the aft portion of the wing from which the remiges feathers grow.

Alar. Related to the wing.

Albinism. In birds albinism take several forms. A true albino lacks any pigment from both its plumage and iris It may also be partial and the bird may appear pied.

Albumin. A term often applied to soluble proteins. These include the predominant proteins of the egg white and blood.

Allofeeding. Allofeeding occurs when a bird feeds or simulates feeding of another adult bird. In bonded pairs of caiques, the male usually tires to feed the female as part of his courtship.

Allopatric species. This is when two or more species arising from a common ancestor occupy different geographic areas. This is the case for P. melanocephala and P. leucogaster. Species that originate in and occupy the same geographic area are referred to as sympatric.

Allopreening. If you have more than one caique, they will preen each other. This is called allopreening. Not only do males preen females, but caique males often preen other males, and caique females preen other females. They often like you to preen them as well.

Allospecies. Subspecies. There are five allospecies or subspecies of Caiques.

Altricial. This refers to chicks that hatch with their eyes closed, with little of no down, and are totally dependent on their parents. Caique chicks are altricial. Chicks that hatch with their eyes open and are able to move and eat on their own immediately after hatching are termed precocial. Chickens are an example of this.

Alula. These are the three feathers covering the pollex. They are thought to help regulate flight.

Ambiens muscle. The tendon of the ambiens muscle passes obliquely over the knee joint. It assists in the control of the bird’s toes. This muscle is present in some reptiles but not mammals. It is present in caiques and some other South American genera, but missing in most parrot genera. This was first noted by Garrod (1874) who proposed using this and other anatomical differences to classify parrots.  For other anatomical differences among parrots see carotid arteries, furcula, and uropygial gland.

Ambivalent behavior. A distracting behavior exhibited by birds when they plan an attack. The bird will preen and fluff its feathers, tail-flick, etc. before making an attack. Caiques usually exhibit this behavior toward birds other than its mate or chicks.

Amniotic closure. Term for the sealed eyes and ears of newly hatched chicks. In newly hatched caique chicks, the eyes are sealed and the ear opening is absent until about week three.

Anal pterya or cloacal circlet. These are the two rows of feathers encircling the cloaca.

Anchylosed. This is the fusion of bones, usually during the development of the animal. In birds a good example is the furcula, which in the result of the fusion of the two clavicle bones. This term is sometimes used to describe the fusion of the upper beak or maxilla to the skull that occurs during development among most bird species. However, in parrots and a few other species such as flamingos the beak is not fused to the skull. See also Kinesis.  

Anisodactyl. This describes the feet of most bird species, i.e., three toes forward and one back. This is the conformation of a parrot’s feet immediately after hatching. Within the first few weeks of development one of the toes rotates from the front to the back resulting in a zygodactyl foot.

Aposematic coloration. Aposematic means to draw attention usually by using color. This is often noted for poisonous animals that are dangerous to eat. Even though caiques may seem brightly colored and attractive to us, it is difficult to know if their coloration is aposematic in the wild. Indeed, in its natural habitat the overall coloration of the caique may be cryptic.

Aposematic iris. Aposematic means to draw attention usually by using color. This is the red-orange portion of the caique's iris that indicates the emotional status of the bird. When a caique pins its iris you see a flare of orange-red color in its eyes, it is a signal that the bird may attack. See pericyclic iris for more about the parrot iris.

Apteria. This is the area of bare skin between the pterylae tracts. This includes the bare area around the eye of the caique.

Aquintocubitalism. See diastataxic featheration.

Aratingidae. Taxonomic family name for American parrots. This family contains six sub-families. One is the Pionitinae to which the caiques belong.

Arini (Arinae). A scientific name for the New World parrots. They are also called neotropical parrots. The New World refers to the Americas .

Aspiration. When food or liquid is drawn into the respiratory tract. This problem is commonly encountered in newly hatched chicks. It is almost always fatal.

Asynchronous hatching. When eggs hatch, they either hatch at almost the same time or they hatch over a period of time. In general, parrot chicks hatch asynchronously, i.e., a day or two apart in the order in which they were laid. Examples of chicks that hatch synchronously, i.e., nearly all at the same time, are ducks and chickens.

Atavism. An atavism is a trait in an individual presumed to have been present in a past ancestor. Juvenile white-bellied caiques almost always have black feathers on their heads that after one or two molts are replaced with the apricot feathers that we see in adults. This may be an indication of their evolution from the black-headed caique.

Auriculars or Auricular feathers. These are the feathers covering the bird’s meatus or ear.

Auscultation. Listening to body sounds with a stethoscope.

Aviary bird. There is a distinct difference between an aviary bird and a pet bird. The difference is the degree of interaction with people. A pet bird usually interacts closely with people on a near daily basis. An aviary bird is usually kept in a very large enclosure and seldom handled by anyone. The caiques in our public aviaries and zoos are considered aviary birds.

Aviculture. This is a term encompassing the keeping, breeding, and all other aspects of bird husbandry.

Axillaries or Axillary feathers. These are the feathers on the under side of the wing.

Barb. The barb is attached to the rachis, i.e., these constitute the first branches off the main trunk of the feather. Barbs bear barbules that in turn bear hamuli that latch to the adjacent barb.

Barbering. Feather chewing. This refers to an obsessive behavior of the bird chewing on its feathers without plucking them out.

Barbule. Barbules are attached to the barb and provide the rigidity to the vane by cross hooking with another barbule on the adjacent barb.

Benjamin. This is the smallest, usually youngest chick. In large clutches, this chick can not compete as well for its parent’s attention (Smith, 1991). This results in it not receiving proper nourishment and suffering from stunted growth or even death. In some species of birds, the older larger chick actually drives younger siblings out of the nest.

Berlepsch, Count Hans von. (1850-1915) German ornithologist.  He was the author for the subspecies M. m. pallida and one commmon German names for this species is “Berepsch Grünzügelpapagei.” He was one of the original advocates for bird conservation and wrote “Der gesamte Vogelshutz” a tract advocating the protection of birds in Germany . His main interest was the birds of the Americas and he specialized in hummingbirds. He bred the now extinct Carolina parakeet, and when one escaped and he could not recapture it, he released more in hopes that they would establish a breeding colony in Germany . This failed. Unfortunately, he left little information on his breeding success. His collection of 55,000 specimens from the Americas constitutes the core of the collection of the Sektion Ornithologie of the Senckenberg Center for Biodiversity Research of the Senckenberg Museum located in Frankfurt am Main. He was known as the “Bird Baron.”

Bill Tip or Bill Tip Organ. This is an organ that the bird uses to sense vibrations and food. It consists of a bundle of highly sensitive nerve endings. In parrots it is more developed in the lower beak than in the upper.

Biophilia. A word coined by E.O. Wilson to describe the deep need people have to experience natural habitats and species.

Bird fancier’s lung. This is an allergic disease called hypersensitivity pneumonitis that develops in a small portion of bird owners. There may be few if any symptoms in its early stages. It can develop into a chronic or recurrent disease. One cause of the disease is thought to be the inhalation of dried bird droppings (Ohtani, 2000).

Blackwater river. Blackwater rivers have a dark color due to tannins and other plant decay products. They tend to not carry much sediment. This is the orgin of the name for the Rio Negro .

Blood feather. A new feather that is emerging from its follicle and is still growing and being supplied with blood. You should take great care to avoid damaging these feathers. Clipping them can cause the bird to lose a significant amount of blood.

Brace. A brace is comprised of two birds irrespective of sex. Usually used in regard to dead game fowl.

Breeder fatigue. This is a common plight of people who breed birds. This usually occurs among small operators who overburden themselves with too many breeder pairs. The breeding of even a few birds should not be taken lightly. The breeding operation requires that the birds be attended to every day, and a heavier burden occurs when chicks need to be hand fed.

Broadleaf evergreen forest. Most tropical jungles are comprised of broadleaf evergreen trees. This contrasts with the evergreen forests of cooler climates in which the trees bear needles.

Brood patch. An area on the breast of the female bird that often becomes thickened, more vascularized, and feathers lost during the brooding period. Sometimes a hen will pluck this area.

Brooder. A heated chamber used to keep young chicks warm.

Brooding. When adult birds sit on the young to keep them warm.

Brood reduction. Parrots very often do not feed all the chicks that hatch. They spend most of their efforts feeding the oldest chick(s). Younger chicks are allowed to die. This has been reported for hyacinth macaw (Davids, 2000) and this appears to be the case for caiques as well.

Bursa of Fabricus. An organ that is similar to the spleen in humans. It produces immune cells called “B cells” that make antibodies. Since these antibody-producing cells were first discovered in birds, even cells that make antibodies in humans are called B cells. This organ is often harvested at necropsy because it may provide information related to any disease of the dead bird.

Caica Lesson (1831). This is the most commmoly used genus name for caiques in the nineteenth century. From the vernacular “Les Caïcas.”  It was been replaced by Pionites Heine (1890). Caica was a genus name proposed by a man named Lesson. The name had to be changed because of confusion about what parrot Lesson was referring to. This name is now used in conjunction with a different parrot species, i.e., Pionopsitta caica Latham. For more on this see Prestwich (1955).

Calamus. Alternate name for a quill, i.e., the bare portion of the feather where it is attached to the wing.

Calcite. Calcium carbonate. The primary inorganic component of the egg shell.

Call bird. A bird used to lure wild birds. Most often this is done for the purpose of capturing wild parrots. That this method works is a tribute to the social nature of parrots.

Call convergence. When the vocalizations of a pair of birds or nearby flocks approach similarity. (Vehrencamp, 2003). This is one explanation of why parrots learn to talk (Hile, 2000).

Campo or Campo Limpo. This is the term for the grasslands south of the rainforest areas of Brazil . Unlike the cerrado, there are no trees in campo areas. These areas of grassland and the cerrado are a barrier to the southward spread of caiques.

Candle or Candling. This is a technique used to follow the development of the chick embryo in the egg. For this, one uses a bright light capable of penetrating the shell of an egg in order to see development of the chick’s vascular system and other organs.

Canopy or Forest Canopy. The upper most level of the rainforest typically between 20 nd 30 m above the forest floor. Consists of spreading branches. This is the level in which caiques usually live.

Carina. This is the type of sternum seen for flying birds. A second type is the ratite sternum that is only seen for flightless birds such as the ostrich.

Carotenoids. These are a set of pigments that impart the bright yellows, oranges, and reds to the feathers, skin, egg yolk and eyes of many bird species. Carotenoids are fat-soluble compounds formerly called lipochromes. Birds acquire these pigments from their diet. The feather coloration of parrots, however, appears not to be due to carotenoids, but rather to another set of pigments known as psittacofulvins (McGraw, 2004).

Carotid arteries. In mammals there is a pair of carotid arteries on opposite sides of the neck that carrys blood to the head and brain. This is the case for most parrot species, but not all. In cockatoos there is only a left carotid. In caiques, and most other South American parrots, both carotids are present; however, the left carotid is superficial. This was first noted by Garrod (1874) who proposed using this and other anatomical differences to classify parrots.  For other anatomical differences among parrots see ambiens muscle, furcula, and uropygial gland.

Cavity nesting birds. These are bird that nest in cavities. Usually the cavity is in a tree but may also be in a mud bank or other medium. There are two kinds of cavity nesters: Excavators and adopters. Excavators, such as woodpeckers, make their own cavity while adopters nest in pre-existing cavities (Eberhard, 2002). Caiques and most other parrots are cavity adopters.

Cere. The nasal passages are in this fleshy, feather free area above the caique's beak.

Cerrado. Vegetative habitat of open wooded savanna characterized by expanses of coarse grasses interspersed with small trees. The cerrado south and east of the Amazon appears to limit the southerly expansion of the range of caiques in South America .

Chalazae. These are the two spiral strands of denser albumin that serve to hold the yolk in position in the egg.

Chap. Either the upper or lower part of a bird’s bill.

Chimera.  An animal composed of tissues of more than one genetic origin. This is usually accomplished by injecting cells from one animal into the egg of another. This can give rise to animals with different colors, etc., on parts of its body. There are no reports of this being done with parrots, but it has been done with chickens (Seo, 1995).

Choana. This is the slit in palate of the bird's mouth. Unlike humans, this passage connects the bird's nasal passages with its mouth. When the bird closes its beak, its glottis closes this passage.

Chlamydophila psittaci. This is an obligate intracellular bacterial pathogen. It is the cause of ornithosis or psittacosis. The former name for this organism was Chlamydia psittaci. This is a very difficult disease to diagnose because its clinical signs are quite varied. This disease can be treated with antibiotics.

Chlamydia psittaci. This scientific name was recently replaced with Chlamydophila psittaci.

Cleidoic. Related to eggs completely enclosed in a shell. Particularly the physiological conditions and adaptations encountered within the egg, e.g., metabolism, excretion, etc. 

Cline or Clinal belt. This is a region of overlap in the geographical ranges of two species or sub-species capable of inter-breeding. Often there is a gradient in the physical features of the species across the belt due to hybridization. Occasionally one of these natural hybrids is encountered in captivity. Dr. Smith indicates that the occurrence of natural hybrids may be more common than we might suppose (Smith, 1990).

Clutch. The complete set of eggs laid and incubated by the hen.

CITES. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. This is the acronym for the international treaty regulating the trade in endangered species. This organization maintains a list of endangered species and their level of endangerment. All parrots except budgies and cockatiels are on this list. Some parrot species even require a CITES permit in order to be shipped within the United States , e.g., the Queen of Bavaria conure. The Fish and Wildlife Service of the Department of Interior is responsible for enforcing the CITES regulations in the United States .

Cloaca. This is the excretory vent of a bird. Inside this vent are three compartments: the coprodeum, urodeum, and procatodeum.

Cloacal urodeum. The conjugal sex organs of birds. Mating occurs when the male and female bring these into contact. Male parrots lack the phallus that other birds such as ratites have, nor do they have any similar structure such as a “cloacal promontory” that would allow you to distinguish them from a female as is the case for many passerine birds.

Closed aviary. An aviary that has had no birds introduced from an outside source for several years. The intent of closing an aviary is to prevent the introduction of disease.

Cock. A male bird.

Coelom. This is a cavity that occurs in higher animals between the intestine and the outer body wall. In the last few days before hatching, chicks draw the remaining yolk into this cavity. This allows them to survive their first few days of life without food.

Commissure. Where the upper mandible meets the lower mandible. Sometimes also used to refer to the corner of the eye.

Contact call. Contact calls are the sounds made by birds as part of their attempt to keep the flock together or to give warning of danger. In the wild, parrots that roost at different locations often develop different dialects in their contact call (Wright, 1996).

Contour feathers or Contours. These are the feathers that cover the bird’s body. These are used for temperature control.  These feathers over lay the down feathers.

Cooperative breeding. In some bird species, adults other than the parents assist in the rearing of the chicks. Members of the Eclectus genus clearly exhibit this behavior (Heinsohn, 1997). Brightsmith (1999) suggests that P. leucogaster may also exhibit cooperative breeding behavior.

Co-parenting. When a person assists a pair of birds in rearing their chicks. This may range from providing a chick with nourishment in the first few days after hatch, the sharing of feeding duties the duration of the whole growth process, or simply handling the chick on a regular basis. These chicks can be as tame as those that are completely hand reared.

Coping. This is the cutting or filing off of the sharp points of the beak and claws. This practice is more common among falconers.

Coprodeum. This is one of three compartments of the cloaca. It is the deepest and is the terminus of the rectum.

Coprophagy. This is the eating of feces or dung. Caiques probably do this to remove their chicks’ feces from the nest.

Counter shading. This refers to birds that are shaded dark on their backs and light on the breasts. Caiques are counter shaded since theirs backs are deep green and their breasts are white. This is thought to help camouflage them from animals and other birds that hunt by sight.

Counter singing. This occurs when two birds sing in response to each other. This may be done by two rival males or be the dueting of a male and female of a pair.

Coverts. The short feathers that cover the body and limbs particularly the wings. They overlap the primary feathers.

Craw. The crop.

Crissum. This is the general area around the bird’s vent.

Crop. This is the pouch-like enlargement in the gullet of birds in which food is held prior to passage into the main digestive organs. This is primarily thought to be a food storage organ, although it is possible that the digestive process begins in this organ. 

Crop burn. Crop burn is a serious problem that results when chicks are fed food that is too hot. Very young chicks should never be fed food over 105 °F and older chicks food over 115 °F.

Crop milk. This "milk" is produced in the crop by epithelial cells that swell and burst. This is regurgitated by the parent bird and fed to its chicks. One belief is that this milk not only provides nourishment, by serves to transfer protective antibodies. While well documented for pigeons, it is not known if parrots produce crop milk.

Crural feathers. These are the feathers covering the birds legs. The color of these feathers is one of the criteria distinguishing the different sub-species of caiques.

Crypsis. See cryptic coloration.

Cryptic coloration. Birds that have coloration that allow them to conceal themselves are cryptically colored. The general green coloration of most parrots may serve this purpose in their rainforest environment. Also see aposematic and phaneric coloration.

Cibitals. Same as secondary feathers.

Culmen. This is the dorsal ridge of the beak from the forehead to its tip.

Cyanism. A mutation resulting in a blue coloration of the plumage. Several parrot species exhibit this trait.

DAP. Dead after pipping. This is when a chick dies just after breaking the shell in the hatching process. Little is known about why this occurs.

Dertrum. The tip of the upper bill.

Desmognathous palate. All parrots have desmognathous palate. The structure of a bird’s palate does not completely separate the oral cavity from the nasal cavity as in mammals. A narrow cleft usually connects the two. The structure of the palate varies from one species to another.

Determinate egg layer. Birds that lay only one set of eggs and stop are called determinate layers. These birds will not lay additional eggs if they are removed or destroyed. Budgies are an example of this type of bird. Caiques tend to be determinate layers, but often they can be induced to lay an additional egg or two if they are pulled (Smith, 1991). Also see indeterminate egg layer.

Diastataxic featheration or Diastataxy. All parrots have diastataxic wings. Birds with this type of wing have a small gap between two of their secondary flight feathers. These birds are thought to be missing their fifth secondary. Support for this notion is that a matching fifth secondary covert feather remains. An alternate term for this is aquintocubitalism. Birds that have retained their fifth secondary flight are termed eutaxic. Parrots are diastataxic. Fro more information see Bostwick (2002).

Digitals or digital feathers. Feathers borne on the wing digits.

DIS. Dead-in-shell. When an egg embryo dies before it hatches.

Displaced aggression. This is the term for aggression toward an object, person or another bird due to an inaccessible stimulus. This is a common behavioral problem for caiques and parrots. A frequent form of this is when the bird bites a person upon observing a nearby person, bird or object that it dislikes intensely. This is the reason many recommend that you do not allow a parrot to sit on your shoulder.

Diurnal birds. These are birds that are active during the day and roost at night.  Most parrots are diurnal.

Down. 1. This is a collective term for the short fluffy, unzipped feathers closest to the body. They are normally obsured beneath the contour feathers. Their primary purpose is as insulation. 2. These are also the fuzzy feathers on a chick just after hatching.  Caiques have a light covering of white down when they hatch.

Drawdown. Change in the air cell portion of the egg shortly before the chick begins hatching. It results when the chick breaks the inner shell membrane.

Dropping. This is the common name for the bird’s excreta. A bird’s dropping are composed of three different excretions: The urine, a clear liquid; the urates, a white paste, and the feces, which are typically green or brown depending on the bird’s diet.

Dueting. Many parrots duet. Dueting is when two birds, usually mates, sing a duet. Unlike by people, who usually sing simultaneously, parrots such a yellow napes (Wright, 1999) duet by singing one portion of the song and then its mate the next. I am not aware of any dueting by caiques, but I have heard my hawkheads duet.

Dyck texture. J. Dyck (1971) showed that the blue and green color of most feathers, including those of parrots, are due to their structure.  He showed that the blue color was the result of constructive interference of light within the spongy structures  or “texture” he observed within feathers by electron-microscopy.  Thus, the origin of the blue color was the same as that seen for an oil-slick on warer and not the Tyndall effect that was previously thought to cause these feathers to appear blue.

Dystocia. Egg binding.

Ecdysis. The shedding of plumage during molt. The replacement process is called Endysis.

Ectoparasites. These are external parasites such as mites, fleas, etc. One species of feather mite reported for caiques is Rhytidelasma forficiventris (Atyeo, 1988).

Eggshell. This is the calciferous outer casing of the egg that protects the embryo during incubation. It is composed of four layers. Proceeding from the inside outward, these are the cone, palisade, vertical crystal layer, and cuticle. The outer most layer, the cuticle is mostly composed of protein and is short lived; lasting only three or four days after laying. The crystal layer is a very thin layer of crystals just beneath the cuticle. The main structural layer is the palisade layer composed mostly of calcium. The inner most layer, the cone layer, contains mammillary knobs or cones. Pores in the shell allow the exchange of gases needed for the embryo’s development.

Egg tooth. Caiques have an egg tooth that is present for a few weeks after hatching. The best angle to see it is close up from the side. When the baby is examined this way, one can see a small raised point along an otherwise smooth bend of the top of the maxilla. It is very reminiscent of a rhinoceros’ horn, i.e., it is not positioned at the very end of the beak. It is so small; it may be a bit easier to feel than see.

Emergent tree. These are exceptionally tall trees that rise above the canopy of the rainforest.

Endemic. An endemic species is native to or found in a specific geographic region.

Endemic center. The clustering of a set of species found nowhere else in one geographic region (Cracraft, 1985). In Amazonia , endemic centers closely match the small rainforest fragments, or refugias, formed during epochic dry periods (Haffer, 1969).

Endoparasites. These are internal parasites such as flukes and filarids (roundworms). A filarid species named Pelecitus andersonii n. sp. has been encountered from caiques recently imported into the United States ( Bartlett , 1986).

Endysis. The renewal of plumage during molt.

Environmental enrichment. This is a term used for anything that is done to make the environment of your bird more interesting. Enrichment is critical to the mental health of all parrots. It takes many forms. These include the addition of toys, providing interesting foods, the company of other birds, its owner’s companionship, etc.

Epigamic display. This is the term for the behavior of birds making sexual displays. It is done to either attract a female or to repel a competing male. Male caiques tend to walk back and forth, whir their wings and crow. Male caiques, and sometimes the females hop. This response seems to be in response to humans and other birds.

Epronitic. An epornitic is an outbreak of disease in a bird population.

Erythristic. Red or rufous coloration. In some rare instances, a parrot develops a red color. (Herlitz, 2000).

Ethmomandibularis muscle. This muscle, unique to parrots, controls the prokinetic upper beak (Tokita, 2003).

Ethogram. A complete list of all the different kinds of behaviors an animal species can exhibit.

Ethology. The study of animal behavior.

Eumelanin. This is one of the two kinds of melanin pigments of birds. This form is black or dark-brown. Also see melanin and phaeomelanin.

Evaporative weight loss. During the incubation and development of the chick, the egg slowly loses weight due to the evaporation of water.

Exotic. An animal or plant not native to the area. Usually from a very different part of the world.

Ex situ. Kept in captivity.

Eyas. A nestling. This term is usually applied to falcon chicks.

Feral population. An animal, usually domestic, that reverts to living in a wild state. There are a number of parrot species that have established populations in areas where they are not native. These are often referred to as feral, but are more likely the result of the escape of wild caught birds. These “feral parrots” are most often seen in California and Florida . Feral populations of monk (quaker) parrots occur as far north as Chicago and Connecticut . There are no known feral populations of caiques, although single birds, probably escapees, have been seen flying free in Florida .

Fledge. A bird fledges when it leaves the nest and has its first flight. A fledgling is a young bird that is just learning to fly.

Flock. This is a group of birds that keep in close proximity with each other. In the wild, caiques are usually seen in small flocks ranging in number from 4 to 10 individuals. It is thought these flocks are comprised of a pair and their progeny.

Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). A type of hormone called a genodotropin. It is produced by the pituitary and affects the ovaries and testis. FSH stimulates the follicle to increase in size in the ovaries and increase secretion of estrogen and progesterone. 

Forage. A animal that is foraging is searching for and consuming food. This term is usually used to describe animals seeking food in the wild.

Frugivorous. Refers to eating of fruit. Caiques tend to favor fruits over vegetables and other foods.

Furcula. The “wishbone” or “merrythought.” It appears to act like a leaf spring and helps birds to breath during flight. It is the result of the fusion of the two clavicle bones. Not all parrots have a furcula as a fusion of the of the two clavicles. Most parrots do, including caiques. This was first noted by Garrod (1874) who proposed using this and other anatomical differences to classify parrots. For other anatomical differences among parrots see ambiens muscle, carotid arteries, and uropygial gland.

Gaia theory. In the gaia theory, all living things on earth are interconnected so as to create one large organic whole as a thin shell surounding the earth. The term gaia and the theory behind it is attributed to James Lovelock.

Gallery forest. This is a lush forest occurring along the course of a river. Much of Amazonia , particualry south of the River, is savannah broken up by the rivers with gallery forests coursing through it. Caiques tend to keep to these more forested areas. There are two kinds of gallery forest: Varzea and igapo.

Gamosematic. These are individual characteristics in appearance or behavior that allow members of a pair to find one another. Caiques manage to do this, even though we often find it difficult to tell them apart.

Gape. This is the open mouth of a chick seeking food. This is a characteristic visual signal for the parent to give the chick food. The chick’s gape is not particularly obvious for parrots.

Genotype. The inherited or genetic makeup of an organism.

Geophagy. The eating of dirt. Caiques as well as a large number of other parrots eat soil. Wild parrots are well documented visitors at soil licks in the Amazon. These licks are typically exposed by erosion near river banks. Parrots only eat from one stratum of the exposed strata in these banks. It is thought that they do not consume the soil to obtain grit but instead for minerals that help neutralize the toxins in their diet (Gilardi, 1999; Diamond, 1999).

Gloger’s rule. Gloger’s rule is that species and races from warm, humid areas are more highly pigmented than those from cool, dry areas are. Recently, Shawkey and Hill (2004) observed that feathers containing higher levels of melanin, the main pigment in feathers, resist bacterial degradation better than less pigmented feathers. Since birds living in tropical climates endure condtions better suited to microorganism growth, they reason this provides them with an evolutionary advantage.

Gnathotheca. Another term for the lower beak.

Granivorous. Animals that eat grain and seeds. Caiques are granivorous but not exclusively.

Gravid. To be heavy with young or eggs; pregnant. Female caiques swell considerably when they are about to lay an egg, at which time they are said to be gravid. Even females without mates will lay and incubate eggs. They will be very protective of them. If a single bird lays eggs, allow the bird to sit on them about three weeks and then remove them. This is usually enough to get it out of her system for the season.

Green egg. This is a freshly laid egg that has not been incubated and, therefore, the embyro has not begun to develop.

Grit. Grit is composed of small stones of varying size that are ingested by birds. It serves to grind their food in the gizzard. In contrast to other birds, parrots do not need grit.

Gular feathers. These are the small feathers beneath the bird's eyes. Caiques are able to fluff these feathers out, making their heads appear larger than they really are. When fluffed, these feathers give the caique an appearance of having big cheeks.

Gymnorhinal. These are nares that are exposed and not covered by feathers. Caiques have this kind of nasal openings.

Hallux. The first toe that in most birds points aft.

Hamuli. These are the hooklets on the feather barbules that link the feather vane together.

Heine, Ferdinand. (1809-1894) German ornithologist who first placed caiques in the genus known as Pionites. He also assembled a large collection of bird artifacts that formed the basis of the Museum Heineanum located in Halberstadt , Germany . Today, the “Heineanum” continues to promote ornithological studies and has two annual publications.

Hen. A female bird.

Heterochroism. For birds, this usually refers to plumage coloration that is aberrant to that of the predominant wild form.

Heterodactyl. See zygodactyl.

Holorhinal nares. Term applied to nostrils that are round as is the case for parrots. In other species they may be schizorhinal, i.e., in the shape of slits.

Homeothermic or homoiothermic. This refers to the capacity of chicks to maintain body temperature. Newly hatched parrot chicks are usually poikilothermic, i.e., not able to maintain body temperature without parental brooding.

Hookbill. An alternate name for parrot. One should, however, realize that there is a species of ovenbird, Ancistrops strigilatus that has hookbill as its common English name.

Humeral feathers. The flight feathers on the fore-limb of the wing.

Humeral patagium. This is the membrane of skin posterior to the humerous, i.e. the wing bone closest to the body.

Hypersensitivity pneumonitis. This is a chronic disease resulting from the inhalation of allergens. It does not affect most people, but can be very severe in certain individuals. When caused by pet birds it is sometimes called bird-breeder’s lung or bird-fancier’s lung.

Igapo. A Brazilian term for the gallery forests that line the blackwater rivers such as the Rio Negro in Amazonia . The blackwater rivers carry fewer nutrients than whitewater rivers and enrich the forest less during the seasonal flooding.

Imping. This is a procedure in which feathers are spliced into the wing. Most commonly done in falconry to improve the bird’s flight. Rarely done on parrots.

Imprinting. First described by Konrad Lorenz. Imprinting is characterized by three characteristics. 1.) It is a behavior that results from passive exposure to a stimulus. 2.) It is irreversibly or very difficult to reverse. 3.) It is limited to an early stage in development, i.e. immediately after their eyes open. Caique chicks not only imprint on their parents, but also their siblings and even the humans who handle them while they are still in the nest.

Incubator. A chamber used for hatching eggs. Usually both temperature and humidity need to be controlled in order for successful hatching.

Indeterminate egg layer. Birds that can be induced to lay additional eggs by removing or destroying eggs they have already laid. This is sometimes called double clutching. Caiques tend to do this, but not always.

Inferior umbilicus. This is the small opening at the base of the quill. This opening usually becomes sealed after the feather matures.

Infundibular cleft. Literally “funnel shaped.” This is the opening from the oropharynx into the middle ear of the bird.

Infundibulum. The first segment of the oviduct. The ovum is deposited here and then fertilized.

Ingluvius or Ingluvies. This is a technical term for the bird's crop.

Interramal space. The cavity in the lower mandible where the tongue is located.

Involution. This is a change in a body organ that occurs with age that does not allow it to perform its original function. In some bird species, older hens have reduced fertility. Whether this is the case for parrots is not well demonstrated.

Isabel or Isabella. The Oxford English Dictionary states that this is a “brownish yellow with a shade of brownish red.” I think chestnut describes this equally well. This is the color often used in the earliest references to describe the breasts of specimens collected from the wild. Indeed, this is the color of the breasts of the museum speicimens I have seen. This contrasts with the nearly snow white breast of our captive bred birds. While it has been suggested that this color is just dirt from the daily routine of the bird of eating, leaf bathing, etc. I susupect it may not be that simple. The “staining” is most pronounced at the outer edge of the feather and along the spine. I find it difficult to explain this as simple adventitious staining.

Isophene. A geographic line along which there is little variation in the phenotype of a species. These generally occur at a right angle to the clinal gradient.

Isthmus. The third segment of the oviduct. At this point in the egg’s journey down the oviduct, the membranes form and calcification starts.

Jungle. A forest with many trees usually of many different species growing close to each other. Most often found in equatorial areas with high levels of rainfall.

Keratin. The protein comprising the feathers and beak.

Keystone plants. This is a plant or set of plants curcial to the survival of an assemblage of other flora and fauna. These plants are particularly important for survival during periods of deprivation. In the case of caiques, some parts of Amazonia experience a long dry seaseon when few trees bear fruit, those that, however, are critical to their survival. For more on the concept see Peres (2000).

Kinesis. This refers to the capacity of the upper mandible to move relative to the bird’s skull in a hinge like manner. Caiques and most parrots have this ability. Also see Anchylosed.

Kronismus. Alternatively cronism. When the parents eat or attempt to eat their dead or near dead off spring. Caique parents will pick at their dead or weak chicks, but usually do not eat them.

Laterality. The favoring of one side of the body over the other. In the case of parrots, this is usually related to “footedness.” Just like there are right and left handed people, there are right and left footed parrots. A parrot is considered right footed if it usually holds and manipulates things such as food with its right foot.

This term can also be applied to which side of the body the female’s ovary develops. Most birds only have one ovary, and it usually forms in the left half of the body cavity.

Lore. The narrow area between the maxilla and the eye.

Leucism. Leucism is a dilution in pigmentation of the plumage. These birds are paler than normal. It is most evident for dark feathered birds. Leucism is often due to a mutation, but diet can also induced it. In the case of caiques, they develop leucism when they eat too many fat rich seeds such as sunflower seed.

Leutenizing hormone (LH). This is a type of hormone called a gonadotophin. This hormone stimulates ovulation.

Linnaeus or Linné. Carolus Linnaeus (1701-1778) invented the binomial system of naming species. In his system, a species was given a Latinized “species” name preceded by a Latinized “genus” name indicating the larger group to which it was thought to be most closely related. He was granted nobility in 1761 and took the name Carl von Linné. He is the “author” of one caique species. This is indicated by placing his name along with the date it was named after the species’ name. Thus, we have Pionites melanocephala (Linné) 1758.

Lipochromes. See carotenoids.

Lutino. See xanthochromism.

Macro-chromosomes. The large easily seen chromosomes. Caiques have 11pairs of macro-chromosomes (Francisco, 2001). The rest of the chromosomes are micro-chromosomes.

Magnum. The second segment of the oviduct. This is where most of the egg white is added to the egg as it moves down the duct.

Malar. This is the region on the side of the throat just below the lower mandible.

Mandibular prognathism. Crooked beak. When the upper beak deviates from the center causing the lower beak to protude.

Mandibular rhamphotheca. Lower beak.

Mandibular rostrum. Lower beak

Manus. Latin for hand, but for birds refers to the wing.

MAP. Model Aviary Program. This is a nonprofit organization that certifies avian breeding facilities. To be certified, an aviary must meet specific criteria and be inspected by a veterinarian. Only approved facilities are permitted to use the MAP logo in their advertising.

Maxilla. Short for maxillary rhamphotheca, i.e. the upper beak.

Maxillary rhamphotheca. Upper beak.

Maxillary rostrum. Upper beak.

Meatus. The external opening to the ear.

Melanin. The dark pigment deposited in the bird’s feathers. There are two types of melanin. Eumelanins impart black and dark brown and phaeomelanins that impart lighter brown and yellow to the feathers (Ralph, 1969).

Melanism. This is a term for all animals and birds that are a dramatically darker color than normal. No melanistic caiques have been reported, but melanism occurs in parrots. Melanism is relatively common for the Stella’s lory, Charmosyna papou stellae.

Membrana putaminis. The inner most membrane of the egg that is in contact with the albumin.

Membrana testa. The outer most membrane of the egg closest to the egg shell. The membrana putaminis and membrana testa are in close contact except in the broad end of the egg where they are separated by the air-cell.

Meroblastic embryonic development. Embryonic development of bird eggs proceeds through stages in which transitory structures are expressed that aid the ultimate development of the embryo. This consumes part of the original supply of nutrients of the eggs. In contrast, in other animals such as amphibians, nearly all the original supply of nutrients is expended on embryonic development. This is called “holoblastic development.”

Micro-chromosomes. These are small chromosomes that cannot be easily arranged into a chromogram like the macro-chromosomes. Caiques have 24 pairs of micro-chromosomes and 11 pairs of Macro-chromosomes (Fransico, 2001).

Mimetic. Caiques have a particular habit of imitating the behavior of another caique. The most notable is in their breeding. After one pair goes to nest, usually all the other pairs are stimulated to do to nest.

Molt or molting. These are terms that include both the normal shedding (ecdysis) and regrowth (endysis) of feathers.

Monomorphism. Caiques are monomorphic, i.e., you cannot tell their sex by just looking at them. This is common for many parrot species. Birds for which the sex can be told apart by their appearance are dimorphic.

Mosaic. A mosaic is an animal in which the embryo develops from two or more different genetic stocks within the ova. Mosaics are sometimes seen among budgies and are evident by their bilateral difference in color. Such birds may be blue on one side and green on the other, etc.

Muscularia complexus. The “pipping muscle.” This is a strong muscle in the back of a hatching chick’s neck that facilitates the opening of the egg. This muscle is very prominent for newly hatched caique chicks.

Mutualistic relationship. This is a relationship between two organisms that benefits them both. In the case of the caique, there is evidence that it has a mutualistic relationship with the bakuri tree (Platonia insignis). This tree provides the caique with nectar and in turn the caique acts as its pollinator.

Nares. Singular Naris. The pair of nasal openings.

Necropsy. An examination of a dead body. Usually involved dissection and examination of the internal organs.

Neophobia. Literally “fear of the new.” Most parrot species exhibit a marked hesitation in accepting new additions to their cage and new foods. Pet caiques do not seem to suffer from this as much as some other parrots species, but even they often avoid objects and foods when they are first introduced.

Neotropics. These are the tropical zones of the Americas . They encompass the tropical areas of South and Central America .

Nictitating membrane. Birds and many mammals have three eyelids. Birds have upper and lower eyelids like humans, but in addition they have a “third eyelid.” This is the nictitating eyelid lying beneath the other two. The bird uses this eyelid to blink. It is transparent and is probably important for preventing drying of the eye’s surface during flight.

Nidiculous. Refers to chicks that remain in the nest after hatching. This is the case for all parrots. Chicks that leave the nest shortly after hatching are referred to as nidifugous.

Occiput. Back of the head.

Oil gland. See uropygial gland.

Oology. The study of bird’s eggs.

Operculum. A small round structure inside the nares of most parrots.

Opportunistic breeding. Birds that breed according to a yearly cycle or when there are favorable conditions. Parrots are opportunistic breeders. Other birds that breed throughout the year are continuous breeders. Chickens are an example of this.

Ornithophilous. Adjective referring to flowers that attract birds with nectar. Most often applied to humming birds, but the Bacuri tree (Platonia insignis) is reported to use nectar to attract parrots including P. l. leucogaster to facilitate pollination.

Ovary. Parrots have only one ovary, usually on the left side. Occasionally it is on the right side, which can confuse persons unskilled in surgical sexing.

Oviduct. There are five segments to the oviduct. These are the infundibulum, magnum, isthmus, uterus, and vagina. The oviduct ends in the urodeum. It takes about 25 hours for the egg to traverse this duct.

Ovipary. Related to eggs in which the embryo develops outside the body. This is the case for birds. The term for eggs in which the embryo develops while still in its female parent is viviparity.

Pamprodactyl. Described birds in which all toes point forward. Parrots are not among these. Birds with this type of foot include emus, rheas, swifts, some wading birds, and some woodpeckers.

Papillae. These are fringe-like projections in the mouth and on the tongue.

Parrot. Any member of the Psittaciforme family of birds. See Psittaciforme.

Parrot fever. See Psittacosis.

Passive immunity. Immunity due to immune cells or antibodies received by artificial injection or from the parent. It may be possible to protect chicks from some infectious diseases by immunizing the hen.

Patagium. See Humeral patagium.

PBFD. See Psittacine beak and feather disease.

PDD. See Proventricular dilatation disease.

Pericyclic iris. If you look closely at an adult caique's eye you will notice it has two concentric rings of different colors in the iris (Smith, 1975). To see this well, you may need a magnifying glass. This is called a pericyclic iris. This is seen for about half of all parrot species. The outer ring is most noticeable. In caiques it is red-orange, while the narrow inner ring is brown-green. It is the red ring that responds to the bird's emotional status by pinning or flaring.

Peri-ophthalmic skin. Many parrots, including caiques have no feathers in the area around their eyes. This is most obvious for the macaws. In adult caiques it is relatively small. On black-headed juveniles it changes from pink to gray to black as they age. On white-bellies it remains pink.

PETA. An acronym for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. A controversial animal rights group.

Phaneric coloration. This describes coloration of a bird that makes it conspicuous. It is unknown if this is the case for caiques. Their green color may actually help them blend with the forest.

Phaeomelanin. This is one of the two kinds of melanin pigment of feathers. This form of melanin imparts red, light brown and yellow to the skin or feathers.

Phenotype. The physical appearance of an organism. The phenotype is determined by the interaction of the genotype with its environment.

Philogeny. When two species have a common ancestor. It is quite clear that all caiques must have had the same common ancestor.

Photoperiodism. The length of the day triggers the seasonal responses of many animals. This is also the case for parrots. I have noted this for caiques. When I provide my breeders with light for 13 to 14 hours per day they usually go to nest and will breed all year round. If I keep their exposure to light at 12 or less they stop breeding. This has been better documented for Amazons (Millam, 1999).

Pileum. Top of the bird’s head including forehead, crown and back of head.

Pinfeather. This is an undeveloped feather that is just emerging through the skin.

Pinions. The outer primary feathers of the wing.

Pinioning. This is a method of rendering a bird flightless. This may beaccomplished by clipping the outer primaries or by cutting the wing at the carpal joint. Cutting at the carpel joint is a method used primarily for waterfowl and is never recommended for parrots.

Pionas.  Otto Finsch (1868) applied this genus name to the caiques in his large compendium on the parrots.This name was only used briefly by a few German ornithogists. This name should not be confused with Pionus, the genus name for a completely different group of parrots.

Pionitinae. The taxonomic sub-family for the genus Pionites. This sub-family contains only on genus and two species. These are Pionites melanocephala and Pionites leucogaster and each of these species contains subspecies.

Pip. The first hole in the eggshell made by the hatching chick.

Pneumatisation of bone. In birds, the bones are hollow and contain air sacs lined with epithelium. See Air sac.

Pneumonitis. See hypersensitivity pneumonitis.

Plumaceous. This describes the downy portion at the base of some feathers.

Poaching. The illegal trapping and removal of animals and plants from their natural habitat.

Poikilothermic. This refers to chicks that cannot maintain their body temperature after hatching. These chicks require brooding by the parent. Once they can maintain temperature they become homeothermic. Similar to cockatiel chicks, caique chicks are able to maintain their body temperature within a week of hatching (Pearson, 1998).

Pollex. The pollex is the "thumb" on the bird's wing. It is sometimes called the "spurious wing." The feathers conceal its presence. It is sometimes called the first digit since it is thought to be a vestige of the digits of a front foot.

Pollinator. This refers to any animal that acts as an agent for distributing pollen from plant to plant. The white-bellied caique has been shown to be one of the main pollinators for Platonia insignis a fruit tree of the Amazon basin (Maués, 1997).

Postpatagium. The membrane of skin formed in the ‘V’ of the humerus and the radius/ulna bones on the forward edge of the wing.

Primary feathers (Primaries). The outer ten feathers on the wing. These are the only feathers that need to be clipped to prevent flight of caiques. Each of these feathers is given a number designation counting from nearest the bird’s body. The outer most is number 10.

Prehensile footed. Caiques, like most parrots, are prehensile footed, i.e., they are able to use their foot much as we use our hands. They can pick things up, hold them, and manipulate them with their foot.

Propatagium. The triangular fold of skin on leading edge of the wing. This is where the bird is tattooed after its sex is determined. If it is a male the propatagium of the right wing is tattooed and if a female the propatagium of the left wing is tattooed.

Probiotic. Probiotic is non-pathogenic bacterium fed to animals, including birds, as a way to prevent colonization by pathogenic bacteria (Roudybush, 1994). The basic concept is to encourage a non-pathogenic bacterium to colonize muscosal surfaces as a way of blocking colonization by serious pathogens. Lactobacillus is perhaps the most commonly studied as a probiotic in people, and data indicate it is efficacious. A probiotic, usually a bacillus, is often included in the commercial hand-feeding formulas.

Proctodeum. The third compartment of the cloaca. For most birds this is where the phallus is located, but male parrots do not have a phallus. The Bursa of Fabricus is located here.

Prokinetic maxilla or Prokinetic skull.  This describes a movable upper beak independent of the skull. Caiques, and most parrots, have hinged upper beaks. Prokinesis in birds evolved in two different ways (Tokita, 2003). That seen for parrots, known as “pseudokinesis,” evolved differently than that of other bird species. Also see kinesis.

Protodeum. This is the exterior opening of the cloaca, or the anal vent.

Proventricular dilatation disease. This was formerly called macaw wasting disease bu is found in many parrot species and other non-parrot speices. Clinical signs include regurgitation and the passing whole seeds in terrible smelling droppings. In some cases there is neurological involvement including abnormal movements, seizures, etc that sometimes progress to paralysis. Often referred to by the acronym PDD.

Proventriculus. This is an enlargement in the digestive canal between the crop and the gizzard. You may think of it as another stomach and it is sometimes called the “fore stomach.”

Pseudoprokinesis. See Prokinetic maxilla.

Psilopedic. When the newly hatched chicks lack down upon hatching. See ptilopedic.

Psittac. This is an archaic word for parrot.

Psittaciformes. The taxonomic order encompassing all parrots. Linneaus was the first to define this family of birds (Linné, 1758). He defined parrots as those birds that have a hooked upper bill and zygodactyl feet. Modern taxonomists have modified this to require that the hooked bill have a notch.

Psittacins. This is an early name for the pigments called Psittacofulvins

Psittacofulvins. This is a set of pigments that impart yellow, orange and red to the feathers of parrots. Unlike, carotenoid pigments in the feathers of many bird speices, psittacofulvins appear to be synthesized in the feather follicle and not derived from the bird’s diet. See McGraw, 2004.

Psittacine beak and feather disease. A viral infection of parrots that leads to abnormally beak and feather formation. It usually leads to the death of the bird.

Psittacosis. Infections caused by Chlamydia psittaci. Also known as parrot fever.

Psittacus. This was the first genus name for caiques. Linnaeus used this genus name thinking that it includes all parrots (Linné, 1758); hence the first scientific name of the black-headed caique was Psittacus melanocephalus. Now, this genus name only applies to the African grey parrots.

Psittacus badiceps. This is the species name applied by Edward Lear to his illustration of the green-thighed caique. The accepted scientific name is now Pionites leucogaster leucogaster.

Psittaculture. A term first attributed to George A. Smith (van Oosten, 1985) that encompasses all aspects of the keeping of parrots.

Pterylae. These are well-defined symmetric tracts containing the contour feathers. Birds have seven such tracts of feathers. The capital tract includes all the feathers on the head. The spinal tract includes the feathers of the back. The ventral tract covers the neck and breast. The caudal tract covers the tail. The humoral tract includes the contour feathers covering the shoulder and upper wing surface. The alar tract includes the flight feathers. Finally, the femoral or crural tract covers the thighs and legs.

Pterylosis. The pattern of feather distribution.

PTFE. Polytetrafluoroethylene. This is used to coat non-stick pans and other item subject to high heat. It is sold under several brand names including Teflon®, Hostaplon, and CuFlon. When PTFE is overheated, it releases toxic fluorine containing gases that can kill parrots.

Ptilopedic. This describes birds covered with down after hatching. The newly hatched chicks of the P. leucogaster have more down than those of P. melanocephala. See psilopedic.

Pubic symphysis. The bones of the pelvic girdle that have fused to form a large single bony structure. The width of this structure is sometimes used to determine the sex of birds, i.e., it is usually wider in females since they lay eggs. This approach to sexing caiques has a poor track record.

Pullus. Plural Pulli. Term for young birds that are not mature enough to fly.

Pygostyle. This is the last bone in the bird’s spinal column. It is the result of the fusion of the last few vertebrae. This bone is important for male copulation.

Quill. The portion of the feather shaft that is near or inserted into the skin.

Rachis or Rhachis. The feather shaft, particularly that part to which the vexillum is attached.

Ramus. The central shaft of feather barbule. The ramus is attached to the rachis and the dozens of small barbicels are attached to the barbule.

Rhamphotheca. This refers to the hard keratinize sheath of the beak.

Reflective interference. This is what usually imparts the blue color of the feather. In combination with melanin and lutin it produces green and other shades. It is what also what gives the feather their iridescence. This coloration is produced by the same phenomenon that gives color to a film of oil on a water surface.

Refugia hypothesis or Quaternary refuge theory. This is hypothesis was set forth to explain the great diversity of species in the Amazonian rainforest. It states that much of this the diversity arose during the dry cool portions of the Pleistocene. This was the same period that brought glaciers to the Northern hemisphere. The Amazon was affected as well, but there it brought drier weather. A result was a retreat of the rainforest into “islands” of forest separated by large expanses of drier savanna. This allowed the original species to differentiate into new species that once again mixed after the rainforest reclaimed the Amazon basin. This may explain the separate evolution of the white-bellied from the black-headed caiques (Haffer, 1977; Novaes, 1981).

Regurgitation. Regurgitation in birds is the same as that for humans, i.e., food already swallowed is ejected from the mouth. Regurgitation can be either normal behavior or a sign of illness. Parrots use regurgitation in courtship, to feed their chicks, and indicate affection toward its human. Regurgitation may also indicate illness, such as when Casey, one of my parrots gets carsick.

Remex. Singular form of remiges.

Remiges. The flight feathers on the wing. These include both the primaries and secondaries.

Rectricies. The long flight feathers of the tail. Parrots have 12 rectricies.

RFLP. Acronym for Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism. This acronym is sometimes found on DNA sexing certificates. It is a description of the method used for sex determination. This method is based on the size of the genomic DNA fragment left after cleavage with an enzyme called a restriction enzyme that only cuts DNA within a specific sequence of nucleotides.

Rhamphotheca. See Rhinotheca.

Rhinolith. Literally a “nose stone.” A rhinolith is a mass of dried material that develops in the bird’s nasal passage that may affect the bird’s breathing. Scientifically it is called a “proliferative nasal granuloma.”

Rhinotheca. Another term for the upper beak tht usually refers to the horny covering.

Rhinorrhea. When an animals, including parrots, have a nasal discharge. If this is noticed, it is time to see a veterinarian.

Rictus. This is the corner of the mouth in mammals and of the beak in birds. Fleshy pads are located in the rictal area of caique chicks and touching them elicits a feeding response. I have noticed that these pads tend to be larger for parent reared-birds than for hand-reared birds.

Ritualization. An instinctual behavioral pattern normally used for communicating with other members of the species. For example, “beak locking” by a caique with its partner.

Roost. This is a place where birds sleep. Caiques prefer to roost in cavities.

Rostrum. The bird’s beak.

Scansores. The was the order name applied to climbing birds in one early classification scheme (Nicholson, 1877). In addition to parrots, it included woodpeckers, cuckoos, toucans, and trogons. These birds have zygodactyle feet.

Scansorial bird. A scansorial bird is one that climbs, and caiques do climb. Other scansorial birds besides parrots are the woodpeckers, toucans, and barbets.

Scapulars. The feathers above the shoulder.

Scat. Fecal material.

Sclater, Philip Lutley. (1829-1913) Author of the sub-species name Pionites leucogaster xanthomeria. He was a zoologist with the London Zoo. He was a graduate of Christ Church , Oxford and served as the secretary of the Zoological Society from 1859 to 1903. He was considered an expert in neotropical speciation and zoogeography. He proposed the name “Lemuria” for the hypothetical continent lying between Africa and India . This continent was proposed by Darwin and others to explain the distribution of lemurs and was thought to the original cradle of human origins.

Secondary feathers (Secondaries or secondary remiges). The inner set of wing flight feathers between the body and the bend in the wing, i.e., those attached to the ‘forearm’ or ulna. These should not be clipped. The number of secondaries varies with bird species. Parrots have between 8 and 14 remiges. Each secondary is assigned a number starting with 1 for the outer most and increasing toward the bird’s body, i.e., the numbering is the opposite from that of the primaries. For parrots, feather number 5 is skipped in the numbering because they are diastataxic.

Seed predator. These are animals that eat the seed itself thus destroying it without contributing to its dispersal. Plants frequently employ animals, including birds, for seed dispersal. If the seed is eaten, the seed is killed and this strategy aborted. Parrots tend to be seed predators.

Sex allocation. Some birds can control what the sex of the offspring they produced. This is the case for the Eclectus and kakapo parrots (Heinsohn, 1997; Sutherland, 2002). This does not appear to be true for caiques.

Sour crop. This is a general description of a malady in which chicks do not empty their crop properly.

Species. This is a group of biological beings that are similar to each other and capable of breeding with one another. A species is a subdivision of a genus. The concept of species owes much to the work of John Ray (1628-1705) who developed the first a system for distinguishing different species. His system was later replaced the simpler binomial naming system developed by Linnaeus.

Splay leg. See Spradle leg.

Spradle leg. This is a developmental deformity in which the bird’s leg splays out to the side of the body.

Stereotypy. The repetition of movements over and over again in a compulsive manner. While not common among caiques, other parrots such as the orange-wing Amazon sometimes develop stereotypies due to the boredom of being cage without any social enrichment. This condition in parrots is being explored as an animal model system for human schizophrenia and autism (Garner, 2003).

Sternum. The keel shaped bone in the bird’s trunk. In flying birds, including parrots, it is a bony keel-like structure and is called a carina.

Stress lines. These are off colored lines across the width of a bird’s feathers. Stress lines are an indication that the bird was under some kind of stress when the feather was formed. They can be an indication of poor health but not always. They are most easily seen in the larger feathers.

Structural colors. The shimmering “metallic” or “iridescent” color of feathers is due to feather structure. The blue color of feathers is usually due to structure. This color is due to same principle that gives color to a thin film of oil floating on water. Sometimes this is referred to as Tyndall scattering.

Superspecies. This is set of species with ranges that do not overlap. This is the case for P. melanocepahala and P. leucogaster. When the range of two closely related species do not overlap it indicates that they are very close to being the same species. 

Sympatry. When two species occupy the same area, they are said to be sympatric. The two species of Pionites are not sympatric and this has led some to indicate that they are not separate species but instead a “superspecies.”

Syndactyl. Birds that have two digits partially united. Kingfishers are an example.

Syrinx. Plural Syringes. This is the bird equivalent of the mammalian larnyx. It is responsible for making sounds but unlike the human larnyx, which located in the upper respiratory tract, it is located at or near the junction of the trachea with the lungs. Because of this location, some birds have the capacity to make two notes at the same time—one note from each lung. There are 7 syringeal structures seen in birds depending upon the number and arrangement of the muscles. Parrots have three pairs of muscles.

Tapiragem. This is a method used by the natives of Amazonia to alter the color of a bird’s feathers by first pulling the original feather at molting time and then treating the folicle with substances rich in carotenoids. The feather that grows in afterwards is yellow. Reputedly, all the feathers in subsequent molts grow in yellow as well. This technique has not been reproduced under controlled conditions, but the natives are very secretive about how they do this. (See Sick, 1993)

Terre firma forest. These are forests of the neotropics that are not subject to periodic flooding. This is one of the favorite habitats of caiques. Hilty (1986) reported they are found in humid terre firme forests and at the forest edge in the blackwater areas of Columbia . Haverschmidt (1968), however, reported they are found in the savanna forests in Surinam .  

Tetrachromic vision. Bird vision is different from mammals and humans in that they have four visual pigments known as opsins in the photoreceptors of the cone cells of the retina. Each opsin detects a different wavelength of light. Most mammals have only two opsins and are referred to as dichromaic. This would seem to account for their poor perception of color. Humans have three opsins and have trichromatic vision. Thus, birds probably perceive colors differently than we do. (Heath, 1997.)  There is still some confusion in the use of the terms tetrachromic vision and trichromic vision (see below). Some authors have used tetrachromic to refer to the number of opsins, while others have used trichomic to refer to the number of receptor cell types.

Tomium. Plural Tomia. This is the cutting edge of the beak or mandible. In most birds this is found along the outer edge of the mandible, but in parrots it is most pronounced in the anterior or front of the lower mandible and is used like a knife against the “cutting board” of the upper mandible. A caique’s tomium is very sharp.

Toxicosis. Illness caused by exposure to toxic substance usually by ingestion.

TRAFFIC. This is an organization that monitors trade in endangered species founded in 1976. It is a joint program of the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) and ICUN better known as The World Conservation Union. TRAFFIC assists the implementation of the CITES.

Tread. When a male bird copulates with a female bird.

Trichromatic vision. Unlike people, parrots have three different light detecting cells in their retina. People have rods and cones, but parrots have an addition set of cells that appear to detect long wave ultraviolet light. Thus, parrots may perceive the world very differently than we do. Also see tetrachomic vision.

Tyndall scattering. See structural color.

Ultraviolet vision. Some bird species, e.g., kestrels and zebra finches, have vision that extends into the near ultraviolet, a region that cannot be seen by humans (Bennett, 1996). This may also be true for parrot vision. When budgerigars are illuminated with ultraviolet light, their feet, back and especially the dots of color under their eyes are very luminescent. Some believe this may be how monomorphic species can tell each other’s sex.

Understory. The level intermediate between the ground level and the canopy of a rainforest. Usually consists of small trees and shrubs that tolerate low light levels.

Unipedal posture. Many birds stand on one foot for extended periods of a minute or more. Birds with this ablity have unipedal posture ( Clark , 1973). Caiques are quite capable of unipedal posture, but usally they keep both feet on the perch.

Urodeum. The middle compartment of the cloaca. This is where the urates collect. In the hen the oviduct opens into this compartment.

Urates. This is the chalky white component of a bird’s dropping.

Uric acid. This is the end product of protein metabolism for birds. In contrast, the end product for humans and mammals is urea.

Uricotellic. All birds are uricotellic, i.e., they secrete uric acid.

Uropygial gland. This is the “preen” or “oil” gland. This gland secretes oil-like substances that the bird spreads over its feather. When found in parrots it is always “tufted.” Caiques have this gland, but some parrots, including macaws, pionuses and Amazons, do not. This was first noted by Garrod (1874) who proposed using this and other anatomical differences to classify parrots. For other anatomical differences among parrots see ambiens muscle, furcula, and carotid arteries.

Uropygium. The upper part of the bird’s rump.

Uterus. The fourth segment of the oviduct. This is where the shell is added to the egg.

Vane. The web portion of the feather.

Varzea. Term of Brazilian orgin for the gallery forests associated with whitewater rivers in Amazonia . Whitewater rivers carry a greater sediment load than blackwater river and provide greater enrichment during seasaon flooding.

Ventriculus. This is another name for a bird's gizzard. It is sometimes called the “true stomach.”

Vexillum. The vane or web portion of the feather.

Vitelline membrane. The membrane surrounding the egg yolk.

Vitellus. The yolk of the egg.

W chromosome. The chromosome that determines the sex of birds. If a chick receives a W and a Z chromosome from its parents it develops into a female. If it receives two Z chromosomes it becomes a male.

Wean or Weaning. Weaning is a process in which an animal learns to find and eat foods on its own. For some parrots this can be quite a prolonged process. Caiques are fairly easy to wean regardless of whether they are parent-reared or hand-reared.

Whitewater river. In Amazonia , this refers to a river rich in sediments from the run off from the Andes . This is a bit of a misnomer since these rivers usually have a brown color from all the sediment they carry. Also see Blackwater river.

Xanthochroism. This is related to the development of yellow colored plumage by birds. This is usually due to a mutation. An alternative term is “lutino.” Xanthochroism is fairly common among parrots and the lutino cockatiel has been bred from many generations.

Yolk. This is the yellow nutrient containing sac in the egg that directly supports the growth of the embryo.

Z chromosome. See W chromosome.

Zoonose. After the term ‘zoonosis’ that was coined by Rudolf Virchow in 1855. This is a infectious disease that animals can transmit to people.

Zygodactyle feet. This is one of the defining features of parrots. The term means "yoke-footed." Most birds have four toes, three point forward and one aft. For parrots, however, two toes point forward and two aft. An alternative term for this is heterodactyl. They do not hatch this way. The hatchling's feet start like that seen for most birds, three forward and one back. Within the first few weeks of life, the outer toe on each foot rotates around to the rear. This was used by Linnaeus as one of the defining characteristics for parrots, but other birds that climb have this type of foot too. One of the most common developmental conditions seen for parrots is the failure of the toe to properly migrate from its forward position to the aft position.

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