Issue Four, June 24
(This section of Monkey Messages will highlight new and current trends in the GLTs' travel routes and patterns.)
While the family has only been out a week now, some trends seemed to have developed already. The crossings to and from Holly Hill can be very hectic. Often the family will split up and take separate routes. Laranja most often takes the rope from three eight to the low black walnut and runs across the branch that overhangs the path. Eduardo, Moe, and Mara either take this route or climb up into tree five, jump from there into the low black walnut, and then take the overhanging branch across. Laranja has also twice climbed to the very tips of tree five, where it almost touches the branches from the high black walnut and then either walked or jumped across. On the way back, Laranja always uses the low black walnut but Eduardo and the kids often end up climbing down the high black walnut, the white ash, or the tupelo tree before taking the ground over to the exhibit fence and up into the hemlocks.
(This section of Monkey Messages will highlight new and current trends in the GLTs' behaviors and activities.)
The family has been crossing to Holly Hill about every second or third morning and spending progressively more and more time there. Laranja seems to have to cross back to the exhibit to eat every hour or so, perhaps because she needs the energy to produce more milk. They have all even made it down to the shed holly so that hangout is fair game as well.
The most consistent place to find the family, other then by the nest box, is in the hemlocks in the corner of their exhibit. The monkeys visit there often, briefly in the morning and spend considerably longer there in the afternoon. It is a great place for the kids to learn and play as well as one of the best places for the public to view them.
Far from being a regular hangout but worth mentioning, the family spent one morning high up in tree eight and Eduardo crossed very briefly into the Red Light District, the strip of trees between the bathrooms and their exhibit.
June 19: Recuperation
In stark comparison to release day, the family seemed to be taking it easy. Though Eduardo was up at about 6:26 a.m. and out of the box by 6:45, Laranja and Eduardo never strayed far from the nest box and Mara and Moe made only fleeting appearances. There were some short trips into the hemlocks in the corner of their exhibit by Mom and Dad accompanied by liberal scent marking to reestablish familiar territory. Mara attempted to follow them into the hemlocks down the rope from tree zero to four at around 12:40 p.m. but only made it halfway before climbing off into a little tree and taking it to the ground in order to get back to tree zero. From there, she used the various pulley ropes to scale the slick bark as she did on Monday. Neither she nor Moe seem very comfortable with the way the ropes sway underneath them and often opt to use the ground as an alternate route. Moe was also understandably cautious after his big fall but appeared to be completely healthy nonetheless.
The babies are being left alone more and more often. Shortly after 2 p.m., Laranja made a predator call from the hemlocks and Mara quickly left the nest box and picked up a baby who was alone on a branch of three zero. At one point, she ended up with both infants on her back and, while trying to get back into the nest box, she slipped and fell. She was caught by the platform hung from the rope directly below the nest box. The platform, which is made of a square of brown PVC piping with mesh attached in the middle as a net, has proved its worth, also catching both babies on separate occasions as they fell from the box that day during the 4 p.m. hour. The family was in the box for bed shortly after 6, save for Eduardo who sat in his usual spot right outside the box on tree zero. He finally went in the box at 6:30
June 20: A Rainy Morning
Some early morning sprinkles kept the family in and around the box until 9 a.m. Sometime after 10, Laranja left Baby 2 about 6.5 meters from the ground on the branch that sticks straight forward off tree zero while she foraged in the hanging food pan. At 10:07, the baby fell to the ground below. It landed softly in the leaf litter and immediately picked its head up and cried for Laranja, who came straight down to retrieve it. Eduardo had crossed to Holly Hill at 9:55 but came careening back when he heard Laranja’s calls. He crossed on the ground by climbing down the tupelo tree by the picnic area, running across the path, and then climbing up the fence and into the hemlocks.
In the afternoon, the entire family ventured out to the hemlocks. Moe started to get the hang of using the ropes but Mara avoided them as often as she could by going to the ground. Even the babies were left to do some climbing on their own. This strand of hemlocks is a great place for the kids to learn and an even better spot from which to watch them. At 4:02, Eduardo crossed into the Red Light District, the strip of trees between the bathrooms and their exhibit, and spent four minutes scent marking and foraging before crossing back. They all returned to tree zero at 5:15 and were in the box for the night by 5:30.
June 21: Chilly
Eduardo woke around 6:45 and the family spent their first few hours of the chilly day close to the box again. At 9:15, Laranja with Baby 2, Eduardo with Baby 1, and Moe crossed over to Holly Hill using the low black walnut. Mara lagged behind and found herself with no one left to follow. The family sat in the Bench Holly and called to her as she climbed way up into the tips of tree five trying to find a way across. She seemed a little desperate but kept a cool head and eventually took a short jump into the low black walnut and found the connecting branches. We were so proud of her! Laranja, as usual, got hungry well before the rest of the family and crossed back to get some breakfast from the food pan. She then rejoined the family on Holly Hill by a different route, climbing way up high into the tips of tree five where the branches connect just enough with the high black walnut for her to grasp a branch and walk across.
Things were peaceful in the dense branches of the Holly until around 10:40 when a doe wandered through with her two fawns. The family erupted into a flurry of predator calls. Laranja was especially determined to see them clear of her home and followed them as they walked obliviously around beneath her. At 12:45, all the tamarins returned home. Laranja took the low black walnut while Eduardo and the kids crossed on the ground by the tupelo tree. They made a quick stop at the food pans before heading to the hemlocks. By the end of the afternoon, Moe seemed very comfortable on the ropes and the babies were seen climbing back and forth alone in the lower branches of the hemlock. Mara as well got more adventurous in the branches but still chose to use the ground on the way back to tree zero later in the afternoon. An intense bout of afternoon rain found the family in bed and mostly hunkered down for the night shortly after 5 p.m.
June 22: The First Visit to the Shed Holly
The morning started off calm except for a doe walking through the exhibit and leaving her fawns in the bushes, which set off predator calling and more very territorial behavior from Laranja. Around 9 a.m., they executed a very chaotic crossing to Holly Hill during which everyone took a different route. Laranja used the high black walnut and the others found various ways to the low black walnut and across to the bench holly. Laranja wasn’t content to stay there however, and at around 10, led the family to the shed holly (tree 31, thus named because it is located behind a tool shed on Holly Hill). They stayed there for about 45 minutes before returning to the bench holly and then crossing back into the main exhibit. The returning cross was chaotic as well and sometime in the melee, Mara fell from tree five. She was soon up and running home with the rest of the family back to the nest box. The return home has not been easy for the family. While Laranja is quick to find the low black walnut that crosses nicely into the exhibit, the rest of the family just can’t keep up with her so they return to the bench holly and search for alternate routes.
Most of the 1-3 p.m. volunteer shift was spent watching the the hemlocks, where the family foraged and groomed each other. Shortly after 4, the doe returned to feed her fawns, which upset everyone again, starting up another chorus of alarm calls. After all the excitement of the day, the family had settled down in the box with little further activity by 6 p.m.
June 23: GLT Paparazzi
Eduardo was out of the box by 6:40, followed shortly by Laranja. They foraged and rested until 7:38, when the mother doe from the previous day showed up in the exhibit yet again. Laranja yet again took it upon herself to make it well known to the deer that this was her territory and in doing so, left Baby 1 several meters up on a branch in tree zero. After a little climbing and a lot of infant rasping (the cries that the babies make), Eduardo came up and picked it up. Baby 2’s turn for excitement was when he was left alone on the branch coming straight forward off tree zero. Everyone was relaxed until 8:06, when two large crows landed a few feet higher in the tree. The baby cried and jumped towards the nest box, catching the lower right corner and hanging there. Eduardo ran up and grabbed the baby and the whole family dashed into the nest box until the birds flew away.
At around 10, several members of the FONZ Photo Club showed up to shoot some pictures of our famous GLTs. They stood there for hours with their giant lenses as the family group rested abnormally late into the morning and early afternoon in the nest box. At 1:35 the fawns that had been hiding in the bushes in the exhibit started walking around and passed under tree zero. Moe, Mara, and Eduardo climbed up high while Laranja went low to scream at them. I am surprised she hasn’t lost her voice! At 2:35 they all left tree zero and moved to their usual afternoon area in the hemlocks where the photographers finally got a good view. Mara and Moe for the first time spent some time really playing in the trees, running and chasing each other and also hanging upside down from the branches with their toes. At 3:35 the fawns were moving around again, sending Laranja into another fit. At 4:30, Eduardo and Laranja left both babies in the hemlocks and went to the food trays. Mara stayed dutifully by her younger siblings, although she was obviously distressed at being left behind. Eduardo finally came back and took one baby and Mara carried the other one all the way back across the rope. At 5:30 the deer once again returned to feed her fawns while Laranja alarm called in vain. By 6:30 the family had settled into the box for the night.
June 24: More Exploring
The family was in and out of the nest box until around 8:15 when Laranja led them all down the ropes for what appeared to be a crossing to Holly Hill. Instead of moving into the low black walnut, she went straight up tree eight and the family followed. They spent a little over an hour at a frightening height of perhaps 30 meters, moving between tree eight and the beech and cedar trees that are directly behind it. Moe and Mara tore around; playing and the babies were mostly left to climb alone. A few times they were seen hanging from the underside of the branches but always managed to climb back to the top. By the end of the summer, they are sure to have amazing climbing skills! Around 9:45 they moved back to the nest box where they ate and then continued to the hemlocks at 10:30. Mara tried to follow on the ropes but eventually jumped through the tops of the little trees and bushes to reach the rest of the family. After this adventure the family settled in for a nap and some allogrooming.
At 1:17, Eduardo very deliberately moved to the ground where he appeared to be foraging in the rocks located between trees three and four. The rest of the family followed closely to watch, but aside from a quick investigation of his actions on the ground by first Laranja and then Mara, they stayed in the trees. Throughout this five-minute ground-foraging session, both babies were left alone in the branches of a hemlock. Laranja eventually returned and picked them up before leading the family back to the nest box. At 2:30, food was hung in the exhibit and everyone immediately left their babies on branches in tree zero and went to forage in the hanging food tray. One can easily see where the parents’ priorities lie. The rest of the afternoon passed unremarkably and the family spent most of the 5-7 shift moving around in the nest box with a few brief trips out to the nearby branches.
I am happy to say we have all survived our first week of the free-ranging season. The family is starting to settle in and relax and the kids are finding their “tree legs.” We saw some glimpses of very normal and stress-free monkey behavior as the week went on. Things are just starting to get exciting, and I cannot wait to see how the summer develops.