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Crossing the river before summiting 17,500 Pico Austria. Photo by Ella Williams (2016 Fall Semester Photo Contest, 2nd Place), South America Semester.

Jungle Symphony

As I lay on my bed in the dark at Fauna Forever, separated from the outside by a few layers on netting, I listen to the many layers of sound around me. I hear insects with their chirping calls over and over, mixed in with the occasional high-pitched thin screams or a long buzzing noise. In the distance, down the hill and muddy bank to my let, I hear the rushing of the river as it flows, swollen by heavy rain a few days ago. At night, I hear the calls of owls and other nocturnal birds and occasionally, if I’m outside my bug net, the whine of a mosquito in my ear or a flutter of wings as a moth dive-bombs my headlamp. I can hear the high-pitched or croaky calls of frogs, and the tiny thuds of drops of water or seeds landing on the leaves just outside where my bed is. In the morning before the sun rises, I hear birds starting to wake up for the day, from little high-pitched chirps to squawks to lower, thrumming, repetitive calls. From time to time, I hear a low shout from a distant animal that I have no hope of identifying.

For the researchers here, these sounds are evidence for their studies, or a way to try to pinpoint the location of an animal. For me, however, I just consider them all together as a type of lullaby when I want to sleep. I let them flow together in my mind, trying to experience all the sounds at once just like a musical symphony. It’s a symphony which represents, to me, how the forest always is full of life because it has so many unique animals that are part of its incredibly diverse ecosystems.