A Typical Day

This morning on Barro Colorado Island (BCI), we woke up before dawn and put on our hiking boots and field clothing, and packed water and notebooks. (What would you bring along for a walk in a rainforest?) The howler monkeys at dawn were already howling and roaring like lions and barking like dogs. They do this every morning: why do you think they howl? (We'll discuss that another day.)
We took a walk today from 7:00 this morning until 1 pm. We traveled up and down hills, for a distance of 6 kilometers. Do you know how far it is to walk one kilometer? If you live in a city, how many blocks equal one kilometer in your neighborhood? Can your class measure this distance from your school? And then, how far is six kilometers?

In the time that we walked six kilometers, we saw a variety of mammals, birds, and reptiles. Since we are here to study mammals in particular, we will list just the mammals that we saw. Another day we will tell you about birds, lizards, snakes, and (Jackie's favorites) frogs. Do you know what a mammal is? If not, do you know how you could find out?

The kinds (or species) of mammals that we saw this morning were:

We didn't see all the types of mammals in the forest today. Why do you suppose we didn't see every species of mammal that lives here? How many species of mammal do you think might be in this forest? On another day we will send you a list of mammal species that live on BCI.

We walked very quietly and slowly so that we would not frighten the animals. Because the animals weren't frightened they didn't run away, and we were able to watch them feeding, and we could see what kinds of food they ate. Many animals gathered under fruiting trees to pick up fruits that had fallen because monkeys had fed in the treetops and knocked fruit loose. At this time of year, there is very little food in the forest, so animals spend a lot of time searching for something to eat. Next time we will tell you more about the habits of the animals.

Remember to send us your responses. Bye!