RED and GREEN MACAWS (and a few SCARLET MACAWS) on a clay lick.
©jchip8 on Pixdaus
This photo is labeled Argentina, and I guess it could be, but it looks nearly identical to the clay lick near Tambopata Research Station. We spent two weeks observing macaws on clay licks there (within the Manu Reserve) in Peru.
Why parrots eat clay (geophage)?
Parrots eat fruit, the pits in fruit contain a lot of nutrition, but also a lot of poisonous alkaloids. Dr. Gilardi hypothesized that these parrots only eat certain layers of clay, and knew that naturally occurring clay has some special properties.
- It is made of small particles that carry a negative electric charge.
- Its particles can bind positively charged molecules, such as those of alkaloids.
- In a parrot’s stomach, even a small amount of clay might bind the alkaloids and keep them from being poisonous.
To test his theory, Dr. Gilardi did a simple experiment. Eight captive parrots were fed pills of a mildly poisonous alkaloid called quinidine. Eight other parrots were fed the same pills together with a small measured spoonful of clay. Then blood samples from all the parrots were analyzed to see how much of the quinidine was absorbed into the parrots’ bodies.
The answer was clear. The birds that werine also given clay took only about one-third as much quinidine. This confirmed his belief that eating clay is the parrots’ way of neutralizing the alkaloids of seeds.
Fact Source: http://www.highlightskids.com/Science/Stories/SS1201_parrotseatDirt.asp
Other photos you might enjoy:
A pair of Red & Green Macaws in flight
Blue & Gold Macaw getting ready to land
Squirrel Monkeys take a ride on a Capybara
San Luis Province, Argentina, parrot