Fundación ProAves – por la conservación en el país de las aves

Threatened parrot salt lick discovered

30 marzo, 2011

Wednesday 15 April 2009.

During explorations by the AZE Amphibians Project areas supported by ProAves, a salt lick was discovered being used by the Vulnerable Rusty-faced Parrot, within the Colibri del Sol bird reserve in the Western Cordillera.

This kind of feeding is extremely interesting because besides being and until now an unknown aspect about this species ecology it has been very little documented for Andean parrots. This discovery opens the door to development of novel research and conservation actions for this threatened species.


Geophagia or mineral consumation is reported in many animal groups but it is particularly documented in birds and, among them, those belonging to the Psittacidae family (parrots and macaws) because of the acidic nature of fruit they consume. Several explanations have been given to this behaviour including diets’ mineral complement, toxins elimination, mechanical support for digestion, or just social interactions.

This finding, beyond becoming an interesting aspect of this Andean parrot species’ ecology, allows continue testing how important it is to conserve high mountain ecosystems in Colombia. As in this case, biological cycles and dynamics of many populations of priority species in our country depend on the stability and preservation of these ecosystems in many other areas.

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