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,
Additional terms and other
definitions may be be found at Bird On.
Click on the dictionary to see the selection.
The dorsal (upper) surface of the toes.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
The membrane on the aft portion of the wing from which the remiges feathers
Related to the wing.
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.
A term often applied to soluble proteins. These include the predominant proteins
of the egg white and blood.
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
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.
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.
Subspecies. There are five allospecies or subspecies of Caiques.
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.
These are the three feathers covering the pollex. They are thought to help
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.
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.
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.
pterya or cloacal
circlet. These are the two rows of feathers encircling the cloaca.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is the area of bare skin between
the pterylae tracts. This includes the bare area around the eye of the caique.
See diastataxic featheration.
Taxonomic family name for American parrots. This family contains six
sub-families. One is the Pionitinae to which the caiques belong.
(Arinae). A scientific name for the
parrots. They are also called neotropical parrots. The
refers to the
When food or liquid is drawn into the respiratory tract. This problem is
commonly encountered in newly hatched chicks. It is almost always fatal.
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.
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
Auricular feathers. These are the feathers covering the bird’s meatus or
Listening to body sounds with a stethoscope.
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.
This is a term encompassing the
keeping, breeding, and all other aspects of bird husbandry.
or Axillary feathers. These are the
feathers on the under side of the wing.
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.
Feather chewing. This refers to an obsessive behavior of the bird chewing on its
feathers without plucking them out.
Barbules are attached to the barb and provide the rigidity to the vane by cross
hooking with another barbule on the adjacent barb.
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.
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
. His main interest was the birds of the
and he specialized in hummingbirds. He bred the
parakeet, and when one escaped and he could not
recapture it, he released more in hopes that they would establish a breeding
. This failed. Unfortunately, he left little
information on his breeding success. His collection of 55,000 specimens from the
constitutes the core of the collection of the
Sektion Ornithologie of the
for Biodiversity Research of the
located in Frankfurt am Main. He was known as the
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.
A word coined by E.O. Wilson to describe the deep need people have to experience
natural habitats and species.
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).
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
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.
A brace is comprised of two birds irrespective of sex. Usually used in regard to
dead game fowl.
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.
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.
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.
A heated chamber used to keep young chicks warm.
When adult birds sit on the young to keep them warm.
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
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.
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).
Alternate name for a quill, i.e., the bare portion of the feather where it is
attached to the wing.
Calcium carbonate. The primary inorganic component of the egg shell.
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.
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 Limpo. This is the term for the grasslands south of the rainforest
. 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.
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.
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
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.
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).
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
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
The nasal passages are in this fleshy, feather free area above the caique's
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
These are the two spiral strands of denser albumin that serve to hold the yolk
in position in the egg.
Either the upper or lower part of a bird’s bill.
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).
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.
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.
This scientific name was recently replaced with Chlamydophila psittaci.
Related to eggs completely enclosed in a shell. Particularly the physiological
conditions and adaptations encountered within the egg, e.g., metabolism,
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).
The complete set of eggs laid and incubated by the hen.
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
, 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
This is the excretory vent of a bird.
Inside this vent are three compartments: the coprodeum, urodeum, and procatodeum.
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.
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.
A male bird.
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.
Where the upper mandible meets the lower mandible. Sometimes also used to refer
to the corner of the eye.
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).
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.
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
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.
This is the cutting or filing off of
the sharp points of the beak and claws. This practice is more common among
This is one of three compartments of the cloaca. It is the deepest and is the
terminus of the rectum.
This is the eating of feces or dung. Caiques probably do this to remove their
chicks’ feces from the nest.
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.
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.
The short feathers that cover the body and limbs particularly the wings. They
overlap the primary feathers.
This is the general area around the
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.
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.
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.
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.
See cryptic coloration.
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.
Same as secondary feathers.
This is the dorsal ridge of the beak from the forehead to its tip.
A mutation resulting in a blue coloration of the plumage. Several parrot species
exhibit this trait.
Dead after pipping. This is when a chick dies just after
breaking the shell in the hatching process. Little is known about why this
The tip of the upper bill.
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.
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.
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).
or digital feathers. Feathers borne
on the wing digits.
Dead-in-shell. When an egg embryo dies before it hatches.
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.
birds. These are birds that are active
during the day and roost at night. Most
parrots are diurnal.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The shedding of plumage during molt. The replacement process is called Endysis.
These are external parasites such as
mites, fleas, etc. One species of feather mite reported for caiques is Rhytidelasma
forficiventris (Atyeo, 1988).
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
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.
tree. These are exceptionally tall
trees that rise above the canopy of the rainforest.
An endemic species is native to or found in a specific geographic region.
center. The clustering of a set of
species found nowhere else in one geographic region (Cracraft, 1985). In
, endemic centers closely match the small rainforest fragments, or
refugias, formed during epochic dry periods (Haffer, 1969).
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
The renewal of plumage during molt.
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.
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.
An epornitic is an outbreak of disease in a bird population.
Red or rufous coloration. In some rare instances, a parrot develops a red color.
muscle. This muscle, unique to parrots,
controls the prokinetic upper beak (Tokita, 2003).
A complete list of all the different kinds of behaviors an animal species can
The study of animal behavior.
This is one of the two kinds of melanin pigments of birds. This form is black or
dark-brown. Also see melanin and phaeomelanin.
weight loss. During the incubation and
development of the chick, the egg slowly loses weight due to the evaporation of
An animal or plant not native to the
area. Usually from a very different part of the world.
Kept in captivity.
A nestling. This term is usually applied to falcon chicks.
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
. Feral populations of monk (quaker) parrots occur
as far north as
. There are no known feral populations of caiques,
although single birds, probably escapees, have been seen flying free in
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.
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
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.
A animal that is foraging is searching for and consuming food. This term is
usually used to describe animals seeking food in the wild.
Refers to eating of fruit. Caiques tend to favor fruits over vegetables and
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.
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.
forest. This is a lush forest occurring
along the course of a river. Much of
, 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.
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.
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.
The inherited or genetic makeup of an organism.
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).
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.
Another term for the lower beak.
Animals that eat grain and seeds.
Caiques are granivorous but not exclusively.
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.
egg. This is a freshly laid egg that
has not been incubated and, therefore, the embyro has not begun to develop.
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.
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.
These are nares that are exposed and not covered by feathers. Caiques have this
kind of nasal openings.
The first toe that in most birds points aft.
These are the hooklets on the feather barbules that link the feather vane
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
. Today, the “Heineanum” continues to promote ornithological studies
and has two annual publications.
A female bird.
For birds, this usually refers to plumage coloration that is aberrant to that of
the predominant wild form.
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.
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.
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.
feathers. The flight feathers on the
fore-limb of the wing.
patagium. This is the membrane of skin
posterior to the humerous, i.e. the wing bone closest to the body.
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.
A Brazilian term for the gallery forests that line the blackwater rivers such as
. The blackwater rivers carry fewer nutrients than whitewater rivers and
enrich the forest less during the seasonal flooding.
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.
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.
A chamber used for hatching eggs. Usually both temperature and humidity need to
be controlled in order for successful hatching.
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.
umbilicus. This is the small opening at
the base of the quill. This opening usually becomes sealed after the feather
cleft. Literally “funnel shaped.”
This is the opening from the oropharynx into the middle ear of the bird.
The first segment of the oviduct. The ovum is deposited here and then
Ingluvies. This is a technical term for the bird's crop.
space. The cavity in the lower mandible
where the tongue is located.
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.
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.
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.
The third segment of the oviduct. At this point in the egg’s journey down the
oviduct, the membranes form and calcification starts.
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.
The protein comprising the feathers and beak.
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
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).
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.
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.
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
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.
The narrow area between the maxilla and the eye.
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.
hormone (LH). This is a type of hormone
called a gonadotophin. This hormone stimulates ovulation.
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.
The large easily seen chromosomes. Caiques have 11pairs of macro-chromosomes
(Francisco, 2001). The rest of the chromosomes are micro-chromosomes.
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.
This is the region on the side of the throat just below the lower mandible.
beak. When the upper beak deviates from the center causing the lower beak to
rhamphotheca. Lower beak.
rostrum. Lower beak
Latin for hand, but for birds refers to the wing.
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.
Short for maxillary rhamphotheca, i.e. the upper beak.
rhamphotheca. Upper beak.
rostrum. Upper beak.
The external opening to the ear.
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).
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
putaminis. The inner most membrane of
the egg that is in contact with the albumin.
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
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.”
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).
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.
or molting. These are terms that
include both the normal shedding (ecdysis) and regrowth (endysis) of feathers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Singular Naris. The pair of nasal
An examination of a dead body. Usually
involved dissection and examination of the internal organs.
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
These are the tropical zones of the
. They encompass the tropical areas of South and
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.
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
Back of the head.
gland. See uropygial gland.
The study of bird’s eggs.
A small round structure inside the nares of most parrots.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
These are fringe-like projections in the mouth and on the tongue.
Any member of the Psittaciforme family of birds. See Psittaciforme.
fever. See Psittacosis.
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.
See Humeral patagium.
See Psittacine beak and feather disease.
See Proventricular dilatation disease.
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.
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
An acronym for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
A controversial animal rights group.
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.
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.
The physical appearance of an organism. The phenotype is determined by the
interaction of the genotype with its environment.
When two species have a common ancestor. It is quite clear that all caiques must
have had the same common ancestor.
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).
Top of the bird’s head including forehead, crown and back of head.
This is an undeveloped feather that is just emerging through the skin.
The outer primary feathers of the wing.
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.
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.
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.
The first hole in the eggshell made by
the hatching chick.
of bone. In birds, the bones are hollow
and contain air sacs lined with epithelium. See Air sac.
See hypersensitivity pneumonitis.
This describes the downy portion at the base of some feathers.
The illegal trapping and removal of animals and plants from their natural
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).
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.
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).
The membrane of skin formed in the ‘V’ of the humerus and the radius/ulna
bones on the forward edge of the wing.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
This is the exterior opening of the cloaca, or the anal vent.
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.
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
See Prokinetic maxilla.
When the newly hatched chicks lack down upon hatching. See ptilopedic.
This is an archaic word for parrot.
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.
This is an early name for the pigments called 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.
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.
Infections caused by Chlamydia psittaci. Also known as parrot fever.
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
is the species name applied by Edward
Lear to his illustration of the green-thighed caique. The accepted scientific
name is now Pionites leucogaster
A term first attributed to George A. Smith (van Oosten, 1985) that encompasses
all aspects of the keeping of parrots.
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.
The pattern of feather distribution.
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.
This describes birds covered with down after hatching. The newly hatched chicks
of the P. leucogaster
have more down than those of P. melanocephala.
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
Plural Pulli. Term for young birds
that are not mature enough to fly.
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.
The portion of the feather shaft that is near or inserted into the skin.
Rhachis. The feather shaft, particularly that part to which the vexillum is
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.
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.
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 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.
Singular form of remiges.
The flight feathers on the wing. These include both the primaries and
The long flight feathers of the tail.
Parrots have 12 rectricies.
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.
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.”
Another term for the upper beak tht usually refers to the horny covering.
When an animals, including parrots, have a nasal discharge. If this is noticed,
it is time to see a veterinarian.
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.
An instinctual behavioral pattern normally used for communicating with other
members of the species. For example, “beak locking” by a caique with its
This is a place where birds sleep. Caiques prefer to roost in cavities.
The bird’s beak.
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.
bird. A scansorial bird is one that
climbs, and caiques do climb. Other scansorial birds besides parrots are the
woodpeckers, toucans, and barbets.
The feathers above the shoulder.
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
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
. This continent was proposed by Darwin and others
to explain the distribution of lemurs and was thought to the original cradle of
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.
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
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.
crop. This is a general description of
a malady in which chicks do not empty their crop properly.
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.
leg. See Spradle leg.
leg. This is a developmental deformity
in which the bird’s leg splays out to the side of the body.
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).
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.
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
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.
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.
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
Birds that have two digits partially united. Kingfishers are an example.
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
This is a method used by the natives of
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)
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
. Haverschmidt (1968), however, reported they are
found in the savanna forests in
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.
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.
Illness caused by exposure to toxic substance usually by ingestion.
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.
When a male bird copulates with a female bird.
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.
scattering. See structural color.
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
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.
posture. Many birds stand on one foot
for extended periods of a minute or more. Birds with this ablity have unipedal
, 1973). Caiques are quite capable of unipedal
posture, but usally they keep both feet on the perch.
The middle compartment of the cloaca. This is where the urates collect. In the
hen the oviduct opens into this compartment.
This is the chalky white component of a bird’s dropping.
acid. This is the end product of
protein metabolism for birds. In contrast, the end product for humans and
mammals is urea.
All birds are uricotellic, i.e., they
secrete uric acid.
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.
The upper part of the bird’s rump.
The fourth segment of the oviduct. This
is where the shell is added to the egg.
The web portion of the feather.
Term of Brazilian orgin for the gallery forests associated with whitewater
. Whitewater rivers carry a greater sediment load
than blackwater river and provide greater enrichment during seasaon flooding.
This is another name for a bird's gizzard. It is sometimes called the “true
The vane or web portion of the feather.
membrane. The membrane surrounding the
The yolk of the egg.
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
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.
, this refers to a river rich in sediments from the run off from the
. This is a bit of a misnomer since these rivers
usually have a brown color from all the sediment they carry. Also see Blackwater
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
This is the yellow nutrient containing sac in the egg that directly supports the
growth of the embryo.
chromosome. See W chromosome.
After the term ‘zoonosis’ that was coined by Rudolf Virchow in 1855. This is
a infectious disease that animals can transmit to people.
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