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Come and Meet Bob. by Richard Bartlett on 2019-04-22 00:08:00

Newly metamorphosed "Bobs",
Phyllomedusa bicolor

Meet Bob. Bob, you ask? Who’s Bob. Just wait a few minutes and you’ll see. Well, at least we call him Bob. In fact, we call them all Bob. There ya go! Hear that? That’s Bob. Yep. He croaks his name. Time and again, from dusk til about midnight, Bob—in fact all the Bobs, let us know that all is well.

Let’s track him down so you can really meet him. We’ll start by walking out in back to the banks of the reservoir. OK. Now let’s just stand in the dark for a few minutes. He’ll call again. “Bobbb!” That’s him. Shine your light into the tops of the banana trees and look carefuilly. Ah ha. Right next to us, seemingly undisturbed by the flashlight, is a Bob—a Bob still silent. But next tree down is another—right there—top leaf about a foot from the apex. And he’s a big one.

We watch quietly, our light on low beam, and Bob straightens a little, his throat puffs up just a bit, and “Bobbbbbbb.” Well, it was either a Bob or a burp that time, but I’ll go for the former.

So what are Bob and his brethren? They’re big, beautiful, green hylids, the largest of the phyllomedusine treefrogs. Bob is Phyllomeduas bicolor, a giant monkey frog. We were on the banks of our little man-made reservoir, an area of perpetual moisture. Over the years we had searched various areas of the Peruvian rainforest for these frogs and were delighted when we were lucky enough to find one or 2. Then came Santa Cruz Forest Preserve, the reservoir, and rather than us looking for them, the monkey frogs, at least 3 species of them, came to us.

That night was nearly the beginning of the monkey frog breeding season. The seasonal rains had ushered in the Amazonian summer and bicolors were moving in in numbers. Within a day or so, or perhaps even within the hour, the females would be moving our way and within a week bicolor tadpoles would be schooling in the shallows of the reservoir. Another couple of weeks and the first of the tads, little blue-gray metamorphs, would be emerging.

Mother Nature at her best!
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