Science Diary: Monkeys – Finding Howlers

Science Diary: Monkeys Finding Howlers

Music; Ambience: Capuchin monkeys, Howler monkeys

TM: “One thing about Howler Monkeys is you can walk under 25 of them and not know; if they’re not howling, you won’t even spot them.”

JM: Finding monkeys in the forest canopy can be difficult, but not if you know what to listen for. Welcome to Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries, a glimpse of the world of science from the inside. Earthwatch scientist Tracy McKinney studies capuchin and howler monkeys in Costa Rica.

TM: “You find monkeys with your ears faster than with your eyes. So the most important thing to do if you’re on a nature walk or you’re trying to spot these animals, is to listen. If you’re quiet and you listen you will hear fruits dropping while the monkeys forage. Sometimes you will hear branches rattling as they travel, especially the capuchins, because they bounce. So if you listen for bouncing, it may be a squirrel, but it’s usually a monkey. So that’s a great trick. If you walk under a group of howlers you may not even know it. If they’re not howling, they’re very, very quiet. But if you pass underneath and they’re a little disturbed, often the males will make a soft vocalization, that’s kind of a ‘ooh ooh ooh’ kind of sound. It’s very, very soft, but if you’re paying attention, you’ll hear it. Capuchins also vocalize to each other, so they know where everybody is in relation to the rest of the group, because visibility’s very lowfor them as well as for us. The other really important thing about finding monkeys is being patient. It depends a lot on the forest and on the species of monkey you’re traveling with. Some move in a fairly predictable pattern. Others do not. And so if it’s a forest that’s difficult to move in and the monkeys are moving and you’re moving, it’s kind of like when you lose somebody in the grocery store and you keep walking back and forth and back and forth. So it’s often better to just sit down and stay put and wait for them to pass or wait for them to vocalize.”

JM: We’ll hear more about the monkeys of Costa Rica in future programs. Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries are made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

Science Diary: Monkeys - Finding Howlers

When searching for Howler monkeys, use your ears, and exercise patience.
Air Date:12/30/2008
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Transcript:

Science Diary: Monkeys Finding Howlers

Music; Ambience: Capuchin monkeys, Howler monkeys

TM: "One thing about Howler Monkeys is you can walk under 25 of them and not know; if they're not howling, you won't even spot them."

JM: Finding monkeys in the forest canopy can be difficult, but not if you know what to listen for. Welcome to Pulse of the Planet's Science Diaries, a glimpse of the world of science from the inside. Earthwatch scientist Tracy McKinney studies capuchin and howler monkeys in Costa Rica.

TM: "You find monkeys with your ears faster than with your eyes. So the most important thing to do if you're on a nature walk or you're trying to spot these animals, is to listen. If you're quiet and you listen you will hear fruits dropping while the monkeys forage. Sometimes you will hear branches rattling as they travel, especially the capuchins, because they bounce. So if you listen for bouncing, it may be a squirrel, but it's usually a monkey. So that's a great trick. If you walk under a group of howlers you may not even know it. If they're not howling, they're very, very quiet. But if you pass underneath and they're a little disturbed, often the males will make a soft vocalization, that's kind of a 'ooh ooh ooh' kind of sound. It's very, very soft, but if you're paying attention, you'll hear it. Capuchins also vocalize to each other, so they know where everybody is in relation to the rest of the group, because visibility's very lowfor them as well as for us. The other really important thing about finding monkeys is being patient. It depends a lot on the forest and on the species of monkey you're traveling with. Some move in a fairly predictable pattern. Others do not. And so if it's a forest that's difficult to move in and the monkeys are moving and you're moving, it's kind of like when you lose somebody in the grocery store and you keep walking back and forth and back and forth. So it's often better to just sit down and stay put and wait for them to pass or wait for them to vocalize."

JM: We'll hear more about the monkeys of Costa Rica in future programs. Pulse of the Planet's Science Diaries are made possible by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.