Our Classroom Was A Jungle, Literally

The first week in the biological station was over and I was still amazed about the stunning sunrise every morning, waking up with dozens of birds singing, knowing i was very far away from home. With this field course I was able to experience moments that I could not have done otherwise. Walk through deep forests, looking at the diverse fauna surrounding me, knowing that under every rock and behind every tree was a whole world waiting to be seen.  

Taking this course was totally different from any university class; even if we did some theory, our main classroom was the jungle. Everyday we were out observing things that I had only ever read of. Some of my most memorable wildlife moments included finding a little alligator in a small puddle one afternoon, on our way back from a hike, and washing clothes behind the laboratory while a curious group of monkeys lurked from behind.  

In the ornithology class, we documented over 200 bird species (most entirely new to me), and when possible we studied their morphology, feeding behaviors, and sociality. One of my favorite activities was mist-netting, because there is nothing like holding a bird in your hands and examining it up close.  

My desire to learn the natural history of neotropical birds was my reason for applying to the FPI field course scholarship, and the program exceeded my expectations. Not only did I learn new nature history, but how to live in the field which is completely different from my normal existence. And, since this was the first time I took a course conducted in English, my foreign language skills improved dramatically.

I’ve always felt that for humans to effectively love and take care of something, we need to be familiar with the conditions it needs to survive and to understand its real value. This is why field stations like the one I visited with FPI, Los Amigos in Peru, that give us the opportunity to observe and document animals in their natural habitat are precious places. We need these sites and learning opportunities to draw attention to wildlife and advocate for their preservation.

The last day of the course was the most beautiful moment of all there. At 5:30 am I hiked to and climbed the 60 meter high canopy tower, with the intention of watching the sunrise. What i saw was absolutely fascinating.

This sunrise was the most beautiful farewell from the greatest place I’ve ever been to. 

Lucia Ximena Alva Caballero, Peru