MACAWS in SlowMotion! Rainforest Research! Smarter Every Day 60

Uploaded by destinws2 on 19.09.2012

Hey it's me Destin. Welcome back to Smarter Every Day. So let's pretend for a second that you're a
macaw and you live in the Amazon rainforest. Life is pretty good, you have all
the fruit you want, but there's one problem. You don't get all the nutrients that you need
out of that fruit. So how do you do that? So to answer that question today
I've traveled over four days, most of that being in the Amazon rainforest
with an outfit called Rainforest Expeditions, and this is our final boat ride.
So we're gonna get in this boat, and we're
gonna go up river here at the Tambopata River. Gerson's gonna go with us.
He's helping me haul some photo gear. You're getting Smarter Every Day.

[ Music ]

Gracias SeƱor.

So I'm in a boat full of researchers here at the Tambopata
Research Center and we are about to go check out exactly how these macaws
handle the nutrient problem.

[ Music ]

Let's go to the main spot first,
and then we see how activity goes in the beginning, OK? (Destin) OK, sounds good.

[Music & rainforest bird sounds]

So this guy right here is in charge.
He hasn't said a word to me since I've been here. He's in the zone. He's got a clipboard,
so you know he's legit. Talk now or talk later? - Talk later. [ laugh ]
Talk later. Got it. I told ya, he's busy doing science,
don't mess with the man. OK so that spot of dirt,
right over there is the largest clay lick in the world. Here at the Tambopata Research Center,
researchers come from all over just to watch this spot of dirt.
Macaws, parrots and other birds come in and they eat the dirt and that gives them the
nutrients they need. So today we've brought a high speed camera and we're gonna try to capture the macaws
doing this. Should be pretty cool.

[ Music ]

OK one thing that the birds do
that we don't really understand yet is called flashing. It's when a bunch of them pile up on the
clay lick and then all of a sudden boom, all of them release at one time. So hopefully
I can give this high speed video to the researchers and they can use it.
It's a flash.


(Gustavo Martinez) [in Spanish] Here we have the times,
and the different sections of the clay lick, the weather and the different species.

OK so I'm home now, but I can't stop thinking about why a macaw would eat dirt.
Well, between all my scratching of bug bites, I contacted the Schubot Center
for exotic bird health at Texas A&M University and spoke with a guy named Dr Don Brightsmith.
For the past few decades the theory's been there's toxins in fruit in the jungle
and that the birds are eating this clay to neutralize the toxins. But research by
Dr Brightsmith suggests that it has more to do with sodium and how rain falls on the continent in South America
in general. So if you begin to look at South America you can understand why this happens. On the west
side we have the Pacific Ocean on the east side we have the Atlantic Ocean so it makes sense that the
evaporation would create rain and create the Amazon rainforest. But, that's not what happens.
If you look at a satellite image it's easy to see, but the Andes mountains actually
cuts off the moisture before it gets over to the Amazon rainforest.
In fact, most of the stuff to the west of the Andes is pure desert. This means that most of the moisture
in the Amazon rainforest comes from the Atlantic side of the continent. So as moisture
evaporates here in the Atlantic Ocean, it begins to deposit it's minerals as it
crosses the continent. And by the time it gets here to eastern Peru most of the minerals
have leeched into the soil because it's gone through the hydrological cycle several times.
Dr Brightsmith and his team analyzed the clay that the macaws are eating at the Tambopata Research Center
and they discovered that there's much higher concentrations of sodium. So there you go.
That's why clay licks exist. So I hope you enjoyed the video. I had to spend some time away from
the family in order to do it, but I hope it was worth it for you. If you would please consider
subscribing and check out the links in the video description below I'd appreciate it. You're getting Smarter Every Day.
Have a good one. Don't eat my passport. You can't eat my passport.
[ laughs ]
Get back in the boat.
Why aren't you doing anything? - I don't know what to do.
[ laughs ] And that's how we got the high speed camera to the jungle.
Right there. I don't have a lens
that can reach way over there, so Jeff the high resolution
photographer here at Rainforest Expeditions, he let me borrow his
600mm lens, so that's what we're doing. - So I'm looking forward to taking this
sound and pitching it down, and turning them into scary parrot monsters.
(Destin) [ laughs ] What?!
- What, do you think we're recording wildlife for wildlife?
So today we're in Peru. It's pretty awesome. We've assembled a team of people
who are gonna capture Macchu Piccu in the highest resolution photo that's ever been made of it.
Got a special panoramic robotic camera mount.
We've got all kinds of cool stuff.

[ Captions by Andrew Jackson ]
Captioning in different languages welcome. Please contact Destin if you can help.