Peru: Tambopata Reserve – Chuncho Macaw Clay Lick

Chuncho Clay Lick (along with another one further upstream – coming up later) was featured on National Geographic many times – hundreds of colorful macaws and green parrots descending on an exposed clay river bank along the Tambopata River. It is wildlife at its most incredible, but it is unfortunately quite far from the hide to the Clay Lick. All these pics were at full 600mm zoom, so what you see on TV is really mega-huge professional cameras. The season is a bit off for massive numbers of birds, but it was still incredible to see three different species of macaws – Scarlet Macaw, Blue and Yellow Macaw, and Red and Green Macaw – in one spot. Many were sitting in the trees, but several descended onto the Clay Lick to eat clay. Why do the macaws and parrots eat clay on a daily basis? Supposedly, their diet consists of fruits and nuts and berries, many of which are quite toxic, and the big birds use clay to neutralize the toxins and thus able to digest everything. Given all the weird foods I consume in all these weird countries – maybe it’s time to introduce clay into my diet for breakfast?!