Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Howler Monkeys

Grainy blow-up of a mom and baby howler crossing just in front of our casa.

So, I think my most favorite thing here in Costa Rica is – no not the beaches – the howler monkeys. I’m awakened every morning, predawn, by the “extremely loud and incredibly close” male howlers. There have to be at least two, first because they’re establishing their territory and secondly because I can hear two different voices out there – at a minimum. This usually goes on for about an hour.

A little later on, I can often distinguish some babies in the group struggling to develop their own voices, which comes out as a screechy version of puppy growls.

It’s nearly impossible to describe the sound of the adults, but I’ll give it a try. As I’ve mentioned before, I was outside my hotel room in Playa Grande writing one morning – at 4:30 am – when I heard what I thought was a roar, followed by what I thought was a growl. I was instantly frightened but timidly approached the street looking down it in the direction from which the sounds were coming, fully expecting to see a jaguar. But neither sound was exactly right for that animal. Nothing. A few more roars later I decided I wasn’t going get eaten by anything larger than me and I went back to writing. At breakfast I asked the hotel owner about it, and he laughed then told me it was the monkeys.

Now, I’ve become fascinated with them. I have tried very hard to capture one on video howling, but no luck. They just won’t do it on cue.

If you’re thinking “what a pain!” to be woken up every morning by the gargantuan sound I can understand that. After all, roosters crowing drives me crazy after the first one or two. But when I hear these guys, my brain acknowledges the wild and I fall back asleep very easily, right through the rest of the concert.

Here’s what I treasure about this experience: each morning I am reminded that we humans have not conquered everything. Nature still wins.

Click below to hear what I hear!

Howler monkey sounds

Author: Kathy Lynn Hall

I've embarked on the lifestyle of vagabond as a solitary woman and I'm excited about sharing my experiences with you.

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