A Visit to the Blanquillo Macaw Clay Lick

While traveling down the Madre de Dios River from the Manu Wildlife Center to Los Amigos Biological Station, our group made a stop at the famous Blanquillo Macaw Clay Lick.

Our day started very early at the Manu Wildlife Center. We boarded our boat in the dark at 4am and slowly and carefully made our way along the Madre de Dios. This was particularly tricky due to the water level being low, making the journey treacherous.

We experienced a wonderful sunrise on the river.

We experienced a wonderful sunrise on the river. ©Rob Ripma

We arrived at the trail that leads to the clay lick and started on our hike to the blind. I’d never been to a clay lick before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was quite impressed when we arrived at a huge, raised blind with seating and spectacular views.

This is just part of the massive blind at the Blanquillo Macaw Clay Lick.

The view of the clay lick.

The view of the clay lick.

The view from inside the blind.

The view from inside the blind.

Although it’s known for being a huge Red-and-green Macaw clay lick, many other parrot species visited as we waited for the macaws to arrive. Some of the highlight species include Tui and Cobalt-winged Parakeets, Orange-cheeked, Yellow-crowned, Blue-headed, and Mealy Parrots, and Chestnut-fronted Macaws.

Flock of Parrots at Blanquillo Clay Lick

Just part of the huge flock of parrots visiting the clay lick. Here we have mostly Blue-headed and Orange-cheeked Parrots. ©Brian Zwiebel

Yellow-crowned Parrot

Many of the parrots, like this Yellow-crowned, were flying around the lick. ©Brian Zwiebel

Red-and-green Macaws had been flying around since we arrived at the lick, but it took several hours before the flock decided to come in. Many of us were growing impatient and wondering about continuing on to our next stop, but once the macaws dropped into the lick, it was quite the spectacle!

Macaws were everywhere! While large groups of them spent time at the clay lick, dozens of others flew around, landed in the trees, and slowly worked their way down towards the lick. The squawks of the macaws surrounded us making it hard to hear anything else.

Red-and-green Macaws

Red-and-green Macaws are the most sought after species that visits the clay lick. ©Brian Zwiebel

Our group estimated that there were at least 200 visiting the lick, and we likely under-counted by a significant amount. From time to time, Ocelots can be seen hunting the macaws at this lick but we did not get to experience this on our visit.

After getting our fill of the macaws, we birded our way back down the trail to the river and our waiting boat. The trail provided exciting birding opportunities, too! Highlight species along the trail included Chestnut-capped Puffbird, Black-fronted Nunbird, Purus Jacamar, and Cinnamon-throated Woodcreeper.

As we continued down river, I couldn’t stop thinking about the amazing events that we had just watched. The Blanquillo Macaw Clay Lick is a stop that is definitely not to be missed while in the Peruvian Amazon!

Rob Ripma Bio Pic

Rob Ripma

Rob is one of the owner-operators of Sabrewing Nature Tours leading birding and photography trips in the around the world. He is currently the President of the Amos Butler Audubon Society (ABAS) in Indianapolis, Indiana and Read More