Parrots in the rain forest eat fruit, nuts, seeds, grains, leaves and insects. The large, hard, hooked bills of parrots allow them to crack open especially tough nuts and seeds.
Macaws also eat the clay they find at riverbanks. Scientists believe this clay helps neutralize the toxins in unripe seeds that the birds may have eaten.
The sun conure of South America also eats nuts and the seeds of fruits and berries. Like the macaw, it sometimes eats seeds that are not ripe. It also eats cactus fruit, fruit pits, flowers and insects. Sun conures are also blamed for invading and devastating cropland.
The large, brilliantly blue hyacinth macaw has a beak that's large even for a parrot. It uses its beak to crack open nuts of the palms found in Eastern and Central South America, where it lives. It has even been known to crack open coconuts, and has a bone in its tongue to help it eat fruit. However, one of its favorite foods, the acuri nut, is too hard even for its formidable beak. This nut must be processed in the digestive system of a cow before the shell is soft enough for the macaw to crack open.