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Sometimes we see things…

June 5, 2012

This begins the first part of a four-part series…

Night(s) of the Kinkajou

Broad-billed Motmot

Having no photos from our several ecounters with the Kinkajou we are forced to present you with a lovely photo of a Broad-billed Motmot perched in front of the cabin.

Early in May, I decided I wanted to show Katie the Kinkajou (Potos flavus) I had recently stumbled across in the forest. So we tried to tempt it to the “tanger feeder” which is yet to feed a tanager. This did not bring the Kinkajou. However it did attract a hungry Andean White-eared Opposum (Didelphis pernigra).  Moving on from the tanager feeder, I took inspiration from Juliet and Yvan´s  accidental encounter with a Kinkajou while they managed Las Tangaras (see previos blog entry). Thus was created the “Banana Bell,” a fancy name for a hanging banana tied to a hanging spoon placed inside a Buen Dia coffee jar. When the banana is grabbed by any banana grabbers present in the surrounding forest, the spoon emits a melodious bell-like tinkle in the jar.

The contraption was successful. Sometime after midnight a furious tinkling was heard. Shaking off our sleep, we dashed to the front of the cabin to see a timid Kinkajou looking back at us from the steps leading to the front porch. It gazed back at us, its eyes reflecting our head lamps´ bright xenon light. The banana had already suffered its Kinkajou-y demise. Deciding we were not in fact a threat, the Kinkajou climbed up onto the railing and conducted a thorough survey for more bananas. There were none to be found. However it  spent the rest of the night crashing about the cabin exterior searching diligently for free bananas.

I deemed the “Banana Bell” a success, but due to the lack of sleep it led to, we decided to retire the contraption.

A few nights later, around 1:30am  there was a loud crash on the metal roof of the cabin followed by loud footsteps. While laying there hoping the footsteps would cease, and the calm sounds of nocturnal insects, amphibians and the river would again dominate the soundscape, they continued on. Something was on the roof and intended to take a leisurely stroll about the noisy substrate. Eventually the cacophonous ambulating stopped. As I drifted back into the warm bosom of a well-deserved slumber, I was suddenly aroused by the sound of a plastic chair being pushed along the upstairs floor. I too was upstairs, but usually Katie, myself, a bat, and a few tarantulas are the only wildlife. Unless the tarantulas got exponentially larger over night and were re-arranging the furniture, there was something up there with us.

Finally emerging from my blankets, using my head lamp, I scanned the second story for the late night interior designer. My light fell on the glowing eyes of the Kinkajou. It was awkwardly balanced halfway up the 4 foot wall  that leads to the forest, its prehensile tail groping the wood for a good hold.  We proceeded to stare at each other for what seemed minutes. During this silent confrontation, the furry creature decided we had come to the conclusion that it was welcome to peruse the contents of the cabin. I knew this by its slow deliberate movements back down the wall to the stairs that lead down. Once downstairs, it would find the motherload of free bananas and other delicious fruits. While the Kinkajou is adorable and resembles a strange mix between a monkey, cat, and a weasel, I, too, wanted the fruit. The only thing I could think of doing was to declare, “huh uh! No you don´t!” With innocent eyes it paused and looked back at me. After another delirious starring contest it took another dainty step down, while watching me to see how this next step would register with the two-legged beast that seemed so set on keeping her from her bananas. I then had to chase to long-tailed banana bandit from the house. With lighting speed and grace (belied by its earlier rooftop bout) it bolted up the wall and into a nearby fruit tree than disintegrated into the dark cloud forest.

So ended the night of the Kinkajou. On occasional nights, if sleep does not come, we still sometimes hear the Kinkajou dancing on our roof. While it keeps us up, it is nice to know she is out there always on the prowl for a delicious meal.


5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 5, 2012 10:10 pm

    Don’t put out any jaguar bait !


    • June 16, 2012 2:23 pm

      Ha Ha! We recently found Puma tracks in our backyard! At first, we thought they were Ocelot and we were going to put out Tuna… then we checked the guide again and realized our mistake. Thank god we didn´t put out Tuna!


  2. diane permalink
    June 6, 2012 6:20 am

    Luke, what a wonderfully written story of a night in the forest. I could just envision it happening to you and Katie… You are a wonderful writer! mm


  3. June 6, 2012 9:45 am

    I love the concept of the “banana bell” – hilarious! Sound like you are having a great time and keeping sane (maybe?)….ding dong kinkajou calling.


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