Licking parrots?

Trip Start Dec 05, 2008
Trip End Jan 09, 2009

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Flag of Ecuador  ,
Sunday, January 4, 2009

Today we headed into Yasuni National Park to visit a parrot lick....a place where parrots, parakeets, and macaws gather daily to consume clay to neutralize the toxins in their food.  After a 30 minute boat ride and a short walk, we reached the lick and gathered quietly (sort of...there were tourists from other lodges there too) under the covered blinds that had been constructed there.  The parrots, which move down slowly and cautiously from the treetops before gathering en masse at the lick, were getting noisier and probably close to coming down when a raptor flew over and flushed them.  We stayed another 20 minutes and then our guides suggested we move to another lick.
Traveling further up river we passed a small clay lick in the bank and took some photos, then disembarked and hiked into the woods on a concrete trail.  After about an hour at this lick, the parrots finally came down and we got to watch them for over an hour before we had to leave.  A couple scarlet macaws hung out in the area, but didn't come all the way down to the ground.

On the way back to the lodge we toured the community.  We had chicha at Fredy's parents' house...this is a traditional drink that is made from fermented yucca.  The fermentation process is initiated by the village women who chew the yucca.  We drank sparingly and bought a couple of traditional chicha bowls that local women had made.  Later we visited Hector's house and had palm heart, plantain, and fish (from the previous day) baked in heliconia leaves.  The palm heart got, and the fish were excellent.  Fredy explained the local construction techniques that rely heavily on the "panama hat" palm.  Houses consist mainly of a wooden floor (chain saw-milled planks), raised on wooden poles and covered with a palm thatch roof.  Meals are eaten on banana leaves on the floor, and everyone sleeps right on the floor, although Fredy said some of the younger people are beginning to use mattresses.
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