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Parrots Ceremonial Approach to Minerals in the Amazon Rainforest

Updated: Feb 3, 2020

“There is an optional activity for tomorrow without an extra cost,” I heard the tour guide say and I got interested. “However, the wake up time is 5am,” he continued, and, immediately after, I lost interest.

While I am an early riser, I was on vacation and I wanted to sleep at least an hour more. Nonetheless, Harry was interested and we tend to do every together, so I woke up.

Parrots go every morning between 5:30am and 6:30am to eat minerals from a huge wall in the middle of the Amazon rainforest to get their nutrients. Moreover, they are smart birds and follow a long protocol before landing on the wall.

At first we got in our canoes and we followed Marcelo, the tour guide. He was emphatic about maintaining silence to see the parrots once we got there as any noise scares them away.

It happens that the Amazon is full of beautiful and rare birds. But there are predators willing to challenge the conditions of the forest to be fed. So big snakes hide under the rocks on the wall and wait patiently per days—if necessary—to attack the parrots once they land on the wall for no more than 3 minutes to eat the minerals.

You hear one of the parrots arrive. He is the one that will communicate that the environment is safe for the others to join him on the wall. So you see the flock move from one tree to another as the parrots fly closer to the wall, and the last short flight can last up to an hour—until they feel safe to alight on the wall.

If the parrots hear unusual sounds, they will not land on the wall that day and they will try to return the next day.

Photo credits: Elaine Montilla

You can imagine 30 American tourists and 2 Jamaicans standing up for an hour in absolute silence with our cameras and a spotting scope ready to see them all eating and capture the moment.Although it was hot and with almost 90% of humidity accompanied by mosquitos, there we were standing up quiet and attentive.

Their colors were fascinating; vivid blues and greens. And not to mention that the parrot acting as snitcher stayed all the time watching if a predator approached. If that would happen, he would issue a sound to caution the eaters to flee.

Once they got there, they ate the minerals from the wall at the same time, which lasted no more than 3 minutes. The next day, the snitcher will eat and someone else will watch. Neat experience.

I am writing from Quito and I hope my flight does not get delayed again so that I can get home and write to you.

Instagram: @skamerow

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