It’s time for another taxon based entry. I had a hard time picking this one. Mostly because I wanted to do something a little unknown again. I decided to pick the genus Smilisca. It is a relatively small genus of Hylid frog of the Subfamily Hylinae containing just eight species. The most widespread of them being Smilisca baudinii, which is found is extreme southern Texas, along both coasts of mainland Mexico, south through Costa Rica. The most range restricted would be S. dentata found in only a small region of Central Mexico. S. fodiens also has a relatively small range, found from southern Arizona into Pacific coastal Mexico while S. cyanosticta is restricted to small areas of southern Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala.
The masked treefrog, Smilisca phaeota, resting on a leaf from found in Costa Rica. This frog can range from brown, tan, yellowish, to green but always has the dark mask running from behind the eye.
The other four species are a little more widespread in Central America. The masked treefrog, S. phaeota is found from the Caribbean slope of Honduras, south through Panama, Colombia, and into coastal Ecuador. S. sila also reaches into northern Colombia and ranges northward into southwestern Costa Rica. S. puma is found in northeastern Costa Rica and into parts of Caribbean Nicaragua. And lastly, S. sordida, the drab treefrog, is found from Honduras into northern Colombia. I was hesitant to pick this group for a couple of reasons. Originally I thought there were only 6 species, but members of the genus Pternohyla turn out to be synonymous with this genus raising the count to 8, with my observations limited to just 4 species.
A posed S. phaeota on a dead branch. I have found this frog on boulders and rocks around waterfall pools.
And, as it turns out, I have no photos of S. sila and my images S. puma are old and of poor quality. To wrap up my complaining, I’ve found S. phaeota so frequently that it turns out I rarely photograph it, leaving me again with just a few poor images. So I picked a genus of frogs of which I have no images I am happy with. Oh, well.
At Rara Avis it is easy to find S. phaeota gathered around roadside ditches and puddles. This one was photographed as found calling from under some leaves in a puddle. This was shot with a point and shoot camera on a night hike.
So, do I lean towards reptile and amphibian education or focus my attention towards stronger images in my files? I think over time I will be doing both. It is not easy on the ego to put forth images of poor quality, based on my own expectations, but I’ve decided that this site must represent 2 simultaneous directions and sometimes I’ll post poor pictures of interesting subjects. This is what it means as a growing photographer, animals I have not seen in many years were shot when my skills were much less. I’ve learned a lot, both about herps as well as photography. Ideally, I could replace all my old images and subjects with new and improved versions, but I’ve run into the enviable position of having seen a great many hundred species, many quite rare or unseen by me in over 10 years. So to readers and viewers with more of a photographic leaning please forgive the image quality. For you herpers out there, the next time you’re in Central America give the genus Smilisca a look.
This is Smilisca puma found at La Suerte Biological Field Station, near Cariari, Costa Rica, in the northeastern lowlands near 10 years ago.
Another scan of an old slide of S. puma. The white lip stripe and ‘H’ markings on the back identify it.
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