Celebrating 200 Years- Happy Darwin Day!

the luxuriance of the tropical forest, layers of life and form
The luxuriance of the tropical forest, layers of life evolved to fit every available square inch and forms evolved to fill every ecological niche.

“Here [Rio], I first saw a tropical forest in all its sublime grandeur- nothing but the reality can give any idea how wonderful, how magnificent the scene is. If I was to specify any one thing I should give the pre-eminence to the host of parasitical plants. Your engraving is exactly true, but underrates rather than exaggerates the luxuriance. I never experienced such intense delight. I formerly admired Humboldt, I now almost adore him; he alone gives any notion of the feelings which are raised in the mind on first entering the Tropics.”

–Charles Darwin, May 18, 1832, letter to Henslow

Sunrise over the Amazon forest, Peru

Some of the characteristic sounds of the Amazon rainforest: White-throated toucans (squeaky calls) Purple-throated fruitcrows (mellow midrange), and a very vocal Screaming piha (about what you’d expect). Listen.

The forest regenerates on the feet of fallen giants; decay nourishes growth.

Dusky Titi Monkey- a family group's dawn racket. This one posed for me on a branch in the forest.
Dusky Titi Monkey- listen to the family group's early dawn racket. This one posed for me as I drew, curious about the forest intruder with the sketchbook. Really captivating calls, a feeling of unearthly strangeness and familial companionship all at once.

6 thoughts on “Celebrating 200 Years- Happy Darwin Day!

  1. Pam says:

    How grand to honor Darwin, he would have loved how you’re capturing the rain forest experience. I love your use of toned paper and pastel (?) to add another texture and color to these pieces. The second piece gives me the feeling of sun breaking through morning mist. Stunning!

  2. zeladoniac says:

    Thanks, Pam. Toned paper and pastel it is, with graphite drawing done plein air. It’s nice to sit in the forest and really see and hear it while you draw.

  3. TR says:

    Amazing post Motmot. Very special! I likened those white throated toucans to a cross between strange barking dogs and a squeaky front porch rocker. Those things were vocalizing everywhere! It’s like we were in the same forest with a virtual wall separating us so that we couldn’t see. You are right! No better place to see the way life has evolved to fill every conceivable niche than in the Amazon. Let’s go back!

  4. zeladoniac says:

    Those toucans were calling so much it was easy to tune out. Don’t you love the Screaming Piha? Just watched Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo, and that bird has a starring role.

    I’ll go back any time!

  5. Julie Zickefoose says:

    I love reading and looking at your posts while listening. It’s a whole round experience. Hey, are you sure about the co-whoo (the mellow midrange call) being PTFC? I was told in Guyana that that is an alternate, sort of wind-up call of the screaming piha, and indeed we heard it every single place we heard pihas screaming. Since they’re so hard to see, I was never lucky enough to see it coming out of a piha’s mouth. Just wondering, though, because we only saw purple-throated fruitcrows in one location but heard that call everywhere we heard pihas. I’m sure there’s a silverback science chimp somewhere who knows…

  6. zeladoniac says:

    Oh, man, you should hear the recordings I haven’t posted yet. I had thought the mellow call was a Purple throated fruit crow, but I could well be wrong. I kept seeing them around, more than the invisible pihas (I finally saw one but it was feeding, not calling). Calling all silverbacks!

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