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Clay Licks in the Amazon

Parrots in the Amazon are high maintenance when it comes to diet.

Their nourishment consists mostly of seeds and nuts found throughout the rainforest, but at one potentially ill-cost: parrots need to keep the toxins inside their system – resulting from the ingestion of a variety of different nuts and seeds - at manageable levels. This is where the clay lick comes into play.

A clay lick, otherwise known as Collpa (the Quechua word for salt lick), are patches of earth that are abundant in minerals – particularly sodium - that help neutralize the toxins that develop as a result of a Parrot's diet.

Consequently, clay licks are frequented by a number of parrots nearly every morning. The Yasuni National Park is home to some of the most accessible clay licks in all of the Amazon, with two of the most popular clay licks located along the banks of the Napo River.

Clear skies early in the morning (around 7 a.m.) serve as a telltale sign that the parrot licks are going to be packed with crowds of birds all looking to get a lick of the clay.

You'll find a number of species fluttering about in these areas, including: the dusky-headed parakeet, white-eyed parakeet, blue-headed parrot, yellow-crowned Amazon Parrot, and the Mealy Amazon Parrot. The second clay lick, located deep inside the forest and active around 10 a.m., requires a half-hour hike to get to.

Once there, you'll sit at a distance of about 70 meters and watch and listen as the parrots descend from the uppermost part of the canopy all the way down to the floor. At this clay like you'll find around five species of parrots, including: the Cobalt-winged Parakeet, Orange-cheeked Parrot, Scarlet-shouldered Parrotlet, Scarlet Macaw and the Red and Green Macaw.

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