Bocas’ famous amphibian

If you ask anyone living in the province of Bocas del Toro, to tell you about any Bocatoranian amphibian, most of the answers, if not all, will refer to the Strawberry Poison Dart Frog, Oophaga pumilio, or as we call it here, the Red Frog. And that is curious that is here, in Bocas, where we call it only the Red Frog because in the forests of Bocas del Toro there are many morphs or different color patterns of the same frog while in Nicaragua and Costa Rica (the other two countries were you can find Oophaga pumilio) the species has predominantly the same color pattern, with blue color in the hind legs and red covering the rest of their body and they call it the blue jean poison dart frog.

The frog coloration in Bocas del Toro can go from solid bright orange (the one that is found on site at Tranquilo Bay) to green, yellow, brownish and light or dark blue, with so many variations in the presence of dark spots and their size, color of the hind legs, belly color, …. but is here where people call it just the Red Frog.

Today, I will show you a few of the frogs on site at Tranquilo Bay.  Next week we will feature a different morph of the Oophaga pumilio each day.  The variation in color of just this species is amazing.  Wildlife Panama Panama Wildlife

Nature Strategy: Aposematism

Today, I want to talk about an important strategy in nature, called aposematism. Aposematism is the use of a warning coloration, used by creatures to warn predators that they are dangerous and should be avoided.  Here are a couple of pictures of aposematic coloration: Larvaes of White-tipped Cycadian Butterfly (Eumaeus godartii), a Poison-dart Frog (Oophaga pumilio) and a Coral Snake (Micrurus nigrocinctus). This warning signal is beneficial for the predator and prey in order to recognize and avoid potential harm.

White-tipped Cycadian Larvae Aposematism

White-tipped Cycadian Larvae with warning coloration

Poison-dart Frog Aposematism

Poison-dart Frog with its warning coloration

Coral Snake Aposematism

Coral Snake with its warning coloration

Worm-eating Warbler 2013

In March of 2011 I saw for the first time a Worm-eating Warbler at Tranquilo Bay.   Since then I have been hoping to see another one because it was a fast, jumpy look.  A few days ago, when I was walking back for lunch, after finishing a wonderful morning of nice birds and a great opportunity to get a nice picture of poison frogs, I saw the behavior of a bird that definitely could be a Worm-eating Warbler.  So I put down the tripod, camera, and water bottle to check with my binoculars and… yes!!!  It was a Worm-eating Warbler (Helmitheros vermivorum).  I had an opportunity to enjoy it for a while and have a proper look at this uncommon bird.  It was of course like they always are, jumping, climbing or hanging from branch to branch, and looking in the dry leaves for insects.  It was so gentle, this bird, that it even gave me a chance to make a few pictures.

Wildlife Panama

Red Poison Dart Frog (Oophaga pumilio).  Photo by Natalia Decastro Gonzalez.

Panama Birding

Worm-eating Warbler at Tranquilo Bay.  Photo by Natalia Decastro Gonzalez.

Western Caribbean Slope Migration

Worm-eating Warbler during fall 2013 migration.  Photo by Natalia Decastro Gonzalez.