March 22, 2023

The world’s largest clay lick attracts thousands of birds to Tambopata National Reserve in the Peruvian Amazon

Manú National Park, west of Tambopata, Peru, has an impressive and remote macaw clay lick.
A strange but fascinating attraction in Peru’s Amazon Rainforest is the phenomenon of flocks of hundreds or even thousands of brightly colored macaws and other tropical birds descending on clay licks – exposed tracts of clay along steep escarpments.

No one knows exactly why the birds are drawn to clay, but scientists theorize that the birds need the minerals in the clay – perhaps to neutralize toxins – and that they need the sodium in particular.

The Tambopata National Reserve is home to the world’s largest clay lick, where an average day draws dozens of macaws and hundreds of parrots. Five species of macaws and fifteen parrot species have been sighted. The dry season, especially September and October, attracts the largest numbers of birds to the clay licks – you may see 1,000 at a time.

To see the birds, book with a tour company. Rainforest Expeditions combines trips to the clay lick with multiday bird-watching tours or with Amazon rainforest expeditions. Wild Planet Adventures has stop-offs to the clay licks on its cross-Peru adventure vacations.

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