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Why Do Parrots (And People) Eat Clay?

Via Frans Lemmens/Getty Images

 

A couple of hypotheses regarding parrots’ practice of geophagy…

The parrots of Southeastern Peru crave an earthy delicacy: dirt. At the Colorado clay lick, a cliff face rising above the Tambopata River in the western Amazon Basin, parrots — often hundreds at a time from up to 18 species — gather each day to feast on sun-hardened clay.

“It’s a real spectacle of both sight and sound,” says biologist Donald Brightsmith of Texas A&M University.

As director of the Tambopata Macaw Project, Brightsmith has spent 16 years leading researchers and volunteers who record the comings and goings of these hungry parrots. Their goal, in part, is to get to the bottom of what drives this earth-eating habit, which occurs throughout the region.

Read on at The Salt.