As you sit, subtly hidden on a small river island, the Amazonian sun begins to light up the clay cliff. Soon, dozens of tiny parakeets, colorful parrots , and brilliant macaws perch and preen on the cliffs. For one of the best tropical bird experiences in the Amazon , you need to visit the Chuncho Macaw Clay Lick. Due to nutrients, most likely salt, found in the cliff soil, the Clay Lick attracts dozens of species of birds. From huge Red and Green Macaws to Mealy Parrots , the birds flock here to munch on nutrient-rich clay.
Why Do Hundreds of Macaws Gather at These Peruvian Clay Banks?
Amazon Tours in Peru to the World's Largest Macaw Clay Lick near the Tambopata Research Center
Along exposed river banks in the western Amazon basin, within the borders of Peru, macaws and other parrots in rainbow hues flock by the hundreds. Why would various types of macaws and other parrots want to gorge on clay when normally they eat plant matter? At first, studies hinted that the clay might help remove toxins, such as naturally occurring tannins, that the birds ingest from plants. When animals in general consume clay, it can help neutralize such toxins through the process of adsorption , in which the clay binds to the tannins before the gastrointestinal tract can absorb them.
But inside, you and your expert guide hide. Through cleverly concealed windows, you have a breathtakingly clear view of the Parrot Clay Lick just ahead. There, tropical birds of every color flock — and you have a front-row seat.
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