There is very little scientific information on the nutritional composition of the diets of most of the 355 species of the diverse Psittacidae family.
A story from the pages of an old magazine provides the inspiration for a South American adventure.
Alan Lee is completing his PhD titled "Landscape Level Effects of Clay Licks on Parrot Abundance and Ecology" at Manchester Metropolitan University (UK).
The Guacamayo Project has become one of the broadest and deepest pieces of research in the study of wild macaws in the world. Its history and that of Rainforest Expeditions are intertwined.
Deep in the steamy Peruvian jungle, a macaw spreads her brilliant scarlet feathers over her three squirming chicks. She pokes her great beak out the door of the wooden box where she has made her nest and waits for her mate to return with food... http://www.sciencenewsforkids.org/2007/03/helping-the-cause-of-macaws-3
Santiago Duran leans toward us through the blazing heat of a Peruvian jungle at midday. “Years ago,” he recounts, his weathered hands absently swatting sandflies, “the men from the community used to go upriver to the big palm swamp. They would go in January, and take their machetes, and they would cut down the palms where the macaws had chicks. Thirty, forty nests at a time - they hardly thought twice, there were so many birds. And I tell you, the macaw stew we would eat…”
The clay lick or Collpa at Tambopata Research Center is known as the largest avian lick in the world. The status as the largest holds for its physical size, number of species and number of individuals that use it on a daily basis. The lick at TRC is one of many that are scattered throughout Madre de Dios. In fact near TRC there are at least two other small areas that are frequently used by either birds or mammals. In addition there is a small clay lick in the forest near Posada Amazonas and another 4 or more areas along the river that are used by birds. Clay licks are an important part of tourism in Madre de Dios with most large tour companies in the Tambopata and Manu areas offering clay lick activities. The goal of this section is to introduce you soil eating by birds and mammals throughout the world and then explain some of what you see at TRC and Posada Amazonas.