Friday, February 20, 2009

No mere cricket: Dendropsophus microcephalus

The most adorable little frog on Hato Masaguaral went undetected by me for a long time. I knew I was potentially in the range of two tiny Hylid treefrogs in the genus Dendropsophus, but the closest I came to finding and identifying one was the occasional tiny frog that rocketed out of the parrot nest box before I could even react and grab it.

Then in reviewing my collected notes about the local herp taxonomy (lamentably there is no comprehensive field guide for Venezuelan herps), I noted the common name for Dendropsophus microcephalus. I'll almost never refer to common names with neotropical herp fauna, because nothing is standardized and many don't even have a common name, but this one works. Yellow Cricket Treefrog. Why might they call it that?

I wandered outside after a dusk shower and listened to the frogs calling. Hypsiboas... Engystomops... there. A cricket chirped in the swamp. Could it be? I waded out into a flooded overgrown pasture thick with spiny Mimosa and who knows what else. I tracked down the supposed cricket, and there it was in all its little yellow glory!

To hear the call of D. microcephalus, check out my frog call video.

Once I learned to distinguish insect from anuran, I found many more calling Dendropsophus. They are such an attractive little frog!

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