April 23, 2012

Macaw Claylicks of Tambopata, Peru

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Tambopata,Peru, often referred to as the “capital of biodiversity” is a birdwatcher's paradise. This region is home to 10% of the world’s parrot species.  A primary feature is a series of exposed riverbanks along the Tambopata where Macaws go to eat clay.

Scientist have identified two possible theories as to why Macaws eat clay:

1. To neutralize the toxins they ingest by eating rainforest fruits, nuts, flowers and leaves.

2. To get minerals such as sodium, which they may need in their diet.


Guidelines for visiting a claylick along the Tambopata river:

  • Claylicks can be viewed by boat along the river, or the opposite river bank.
  • Get up early so that you can arrive at the claylick early in the morning when the Macaws are most active.  Its best to arrive right before sunrise and find a viewing spot or shelter hidden by trees so as not to scare the Macaws.
  •  Wear neutral colors and try to blend in. Bright colors can also scare the birds away.
  • Try to be as quiet and still as possible to allow the birds to behave as they would without an “audience.”
  •  Bring binoculars! You will be able to better appreciate these birds miraculous colors.
  •  Bring a birding guide from Tambopata, who can help you to identify each species.
Where to go to view Macaw Claylicks:

Tambopata Research Center: Home to the famous Macaw Research Project. This comfortable lodge takes 8 hours to get to by boat from Puerto Maldonado so it best if you have at least 4 nights to stay. Spend the first and last night at Rainforest Expeditions closer lodge Refugio Amazonas and the nights inbetween at the research center.

Refugio Amazonas : As a charming 32 bedroom lodge, it is well placed immediately adjacent to the Tambopata National Reserve. A comprehensive program includes a morning visit to the claylick, complete with guide.

Check out Tambopata Birdwatching Tours for more info.

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