Monkey Forest Tales: A day in the life of a dusky titi monkey group

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This post and the next four are a series of posts about the life of a group of each of the species present in this area. Some of the stories are based on my own observations and others also include observations shared by my students over the years. Usually when I train a new student, one of the things I like to do is spend a couple of days following the group with them, is a way of train them and to know them and some of the stories here are based also on those days.

The first story is about a group of dusky titi monkeys (Plecturocebus ornatus), called locally, zocay (a beautiful name for a beautiful monkey, that is why I named my project after this species). Dusky titi monkeys are medium size monkeys with a fury look who lives in family groups, like us, with a mother, a father and their kids. The family in this story is composed of a father who is taking care of the youngest in the group. Fathers are in charge of babies in this specie of monkeys. They only pass the baby to the mother when they need to eat. Sometimes a sister or brother can also carry the baby for a few minutes, but mostly is the father who does it.

Our group wake up early today, around 5:45 am, and the father start his morning call while his baby was drinking some milk from his mother. A few minutes after, the mother join the father and they sing a duet. Signing lasted around half an hour, no other group answer their morning call today. While the parents where signing the two juveniles in the group, a female and a male where eating yellow fruits of Nispero, a fruit very common in the area with small seeds and a sweet taste.

The parents join the two juveniles who were eating Nispero for a couple of minutes and start moving. While they were moving towards some other fruit trees in the vicinity, the male juvenile, a bit older that his sister, just by two years, catch a cricket who was hiding in a dead leave.

Eating time lasted for another hour so, mostly in the same area, all eat a bit of fruits and from time to time some crickets and spiders. Then was time to move a bit more with agile jumps from branch to branch. After a couple of hundred meters the father stop again in a dense vine area near to the border of the fragment where they live. There were small purple fruits and a lot of small flies, spiders, crickets and other insects around to catch. They eat a bit more and then was time for the parents to rest. It was almost noon and the sun was high in the sky, the air was hot and dry.

The parent look for a wide branch in which the father lay dawn, hanging his legs and showing his back to the female for her to groom him. The baby move a bit far from his father, he was three months old and started to move on his own when his parents where resting. He approach his sister who was searching for insects. She stops her search to smell him and start grooming him.

The other juvenile, the male was close to the ground looking for insects and jumping from one branch to the other. After an hour or so all the group members were lying next to the father resting. It was nap time for the family.

Around 2 pm the mother started to move and search insects. The father take his baby on his back and start eating the purple fruits again. Slowly they start to move again toward the stream that cross the forest fragment in search of more fruits and insects while they were moving.

Around one hour after, they stop again and the juveniles start playing together, one chasing the other and back. The game was over after a half hour and then they groom each other. The parents were looking for insects all over, moving slowly from one tree to the next. The mother was carrying the baby who was taking some milk.

Around 4 pm, they start moving again towards a high tree with dense vines on top. They probably were going to spend the night there. But before entering the dense vines, they stop again in a couple of Nispero trees to eat a bit more. The two juveniles were the last to enter, they were chasing each other again, pulling their tails and running around, until a hawk scream make the run towards their parents. All were looking up where the hawk was flying, not moving so they don’t call the attention of the hawk.

After a while the hawk was gone and they spend a few more minute eating fruits and insects before going to sleep around 5:30 pm, where no more movements were observed, and all the family sit together to spend the night.

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