Sunday, February 6, 2011

Monkey business

  A large mammal recently came to our bird feeders. It was a White-throated Capuchin (cebus capucinus) monkey. Although it has a pink face, it is usually called the white-faced capucin or mono cara blanca. The corner of our lot has trees adjacent to a large wooded area running down to a stream so there's no reason that monkeys can't travel from tree to tree right up to our house. Monkeys have not come to our house often and we had personally only seen one at a distance which was acting quite fearful. Extreme alertness and caution is normal monkey behavior around people.
  Thus, I was surprised to look out the bedroom window and see one staring back at me from a branch a few feet away. He jumped up onto the roof, ran down the downspout and leaped onto the little platform where we put fruit out for the birds.
When he arrived, only peels that the birds won't eat were left. He took these banana and papaya peels to a nearby tree and seemed to relish them.
Then he came back for desert: a long drink from the hummingbird feeder. When he approached me as I snapped photos, I found his lack of fear of me a little alarming. Monkeys that have become habituated to people can be a real nuisance and although some people feed monkeys, it's not a good idea. Seeing monkeys is fun, but I would rather see them acting normally in the wild.
He unhooked the hummingbird feeder and took a long drink. When he was done, he unceremoniously dropped it. Next stop was back to the balcony and the other hummingbird feeder. When he dropped that one, a couple of perches broke off. Then he spent a long time licking off his hands and feet, where were covered in sugar water. Having taken a bunch of photos, we decided it was time to discourage his bad habit of associating with Homo sapiens. He didn't seem to really care, but a garbanzo bean from the sling shot was enough to make him retreat a bit. Also, all the food was gone.
   Mr. Rududu had a clever idea to discourage vandalism of the hummingbird feeders: backpack clips. Time will tell if they can use their partially opposable thumbs and intelligence to unhook them. If monkeys come often, we will need to completely reassess our bird feeders.

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