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About This GigapanToggle
- Taken by
- Jeff Cremer
- Explore score
- 0.51 Gigapixels
- Date added
- Dec 21, 2010
- Date taken
- Dec 21, 2010
The world's largest known mineral clay lick, where hundreds of parrots and macaws of up to 15 species congregate daily to ingest the detoxifying clay, is located less than 500 meters from Tambopata Research Center.
The 1994 National Geographic article on macaws begins with a vivid description of their activity at the Tambopata Research Center clay lick : " When the morning sun clears the Amazon tree line in southeastern Peru and strikes a gray-pink clay bank on the upper Tambopata River, one of the world´s most dazzling wildlife spectacles is nearing its riotous peak. The steep bank has become a pulsing, 130 foot high palette of red, blue, yellow and green as more than a thousand parrots squabble over choice perches to grab a beakful of clay, a vital but mysterious part of their diet. More than a dozen parrot species will visit the clay lick throughout the day, but this midmorning crush belongs to the giants of the parrot world, the macaws."
Clay licks, or "collpas" in Quechua, are simply high concentration deposits of minerals that are hard to come by in the rain forest. For parrots and macaws they come in the form of river bank clay deposits, but mammals sometimes gather around exposed soil in the ground, monkeys lick tree trunks with sediments and butterflies flutter about beaches where nutrient- rich liquids have evaporated. Clay licks are thus a widespread and not so uncommon phenomenon in the rain forest.
Without a doubt the most popular wildlife spectacle around Tambopata Research Center, and the one for which Tambopata is the most famous for is the macaw clay lick, less then 300 meters from the lodge itself. This particular clay lick is a huge, 50 meter tall cliff of reddish clay that extends for about 500 meters along the west bank of the Tambopata River. Although many clay licks are known to exist along the streams and rivers of the Tambopata Candamo Reserved Zone, the one in Tambopata is not only the largest known, but also the only one where Blue-and-gold macaws are known to descend to eat clay. On many clear mornings of the year, literally hundreds of parrots and macaws flock to the lick putting up what has been described by several well traveled celebrities that have witnessed it as one of the world's great wildlife spectacles.