Macaws are one the first birds than come to mind when we dream about a trip to beautiful, tropical locales. However, despite images of these big, beautiful birds gracing the pages and ads of island getaways and tropical resorts, those aren't the places where they naturally occur. Although they are popular pets, in nature, these big parrots are birds of wild tropical forest habitats, and the heart of their range is situated in the Amazon rainforest.
(Borrowing from a J&B whisky commercial from the 1990s…)
Tradition says: "A tree must begin its life from the forest floor".
Tradition says: "A tree shall form a relatively cylindrical trunk".
Tradition says: "A tree shalt not kill another tree".
Well, strangler fig trees clearly did not receive these edicts...or perhaps they did, and decided "To Hell with tradition!" - much to the delight of aficionados of bizarre, spectacular tropical nature of the floral kind.
Mention the words "Amazon rainforest" to the layperson, and it is likely that the first creatures that spring to their minds are jaguars, caimans, giant river otters, spider monkeys or scarlet macaws….large, colorful, striking animals, some easily sighted and others far more elusive. Other folk might associate the rainforest with the ubiquitous "bugs" that it teems with – hundreds of thousands of species of myriad forms and adaptations, with a sizeable fraction still unknown to science and waiting to be discovered.
But to me (and others of a more botanically inclined ilk), the Amazon rainforest is defined by its charismatic megaflora: the trees that form its canopy and the very basis of the ecosystem, allowing for the existence of the staggering diversity of other life forms.
Come to Peru and Visit This Spider!
From afar, it appears to be a medium sized spider about an inch across, possibly dead and dried out, hanging in the center of a spider web along the side of the trail. Nothing too out of the ordinary for the Amazon. As you approach, the spider starts to wobble quickly forward and back, letting you know this spider is, in fact, alive.