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The art of geophagy

Peter Cowen | Jul 18, 2008


After much trail walking and parrot searching I decided to take a morning off and visit the local clay lick to witness some geophagy (the act of eating clay) in action. After a short boat journey and a 45 minute walk I eventually arrived to the raucous chorus of over a hundred Mealy Parrots. A short while after I observed them swooping down on to the clay to feast! This carried on for approximately one hour then silence fell for the remaining observation times, it seemed that the birds were full. Unknown to me only two hours before a fellow researcher had captured pictures of a Jaguar and Puma with camera traps in a location only 50m away. Scary stuff! I have been on the hunt for a tent so that I can camp and maybe get a sighting of them, hopefully I will find one soon.

It seems that the parakeets and parrots have had their fill on the Balsa flowers Ochroma pyramidale and now tend not to visit the trees on my transects. However, it is not all bad as fruits are beginning to appear so hopefully this will be another food source for the birds.

There is still an abundance of other food for the birds and I have recorded many foraging events of the big macaws (e.g. Scarlet Macaws and, Red and Green Macaws) eating a number of things but they seem to have a tendency for eating the Wasai Palm Euterpe precatoria. I have even observed the rare event of Black Capped Parakeets feeding on termites. While walking the trails I am still encountering many other species e.g. while walking last night I found an Amazon Tree Boa which was fond of biting and didn't like to be handled. My advice, don't try to pick one up!

I apologise about the lack of posts, the internet has been down!