Treefrog Blog

Treefrogs have adhesive disks on the tips of their fingers that allow them to climb trees.

June 3, 2015 | | Notes from the Wild

In mid-spring our ponds resound with the penetrating trills of gray treefrogs – a come-hither cacophony rising from the vocal sacks of hormone driven males.

So strong is the males’ yearning for females that they will continue to sing even when a flashlight illuminates their watery stage. This makes the calling males wonderful subjects for nighttime photography.

These photogenic frogs are remarkable amphibians, magnificently adapted to life in northern woodlands. They are changelings, able to shift their skin colour through various shades of grey, green and brown to blend with their surroundings.

How treefrogs climb

They have adhesive disks on the tips of their fingers that allow them to climb trees. This ability expands their feeding space far beyond that available to their earthbound cousins. Like forest birds, they can hunt the cornucopia of insects inhabiting every level of the forest, from the ground to the treetops.

To cope with our cold winters, treefrogs, like wood frogs, can tolerate freezing temperatures. Glycol in their bloodstream acts as an antifreeze.

Then when spring warms their amphibian hearts, treefrogs seem able to divine new water sources. Dig a pond near a grove of trees and treefrogs will come.

Treefrog tadpoles have red tails

Treefrog tadpoles are also remarkable. They are hunted by dragonfly larvae – sharks of the Lilliputian pond world. Faced with these pint-sized terrors what’s a soft bodied tadpole to do?

Well, with treefrog tadpoles, changing the colour of their tails is one answer. Research has shown that in ponds with lots of dragonfly larvae, treefrog tadpoles sport bright red tails.

Biologists propose that these red tails divert the attention of dragonfly larvae away from the tadpoles’ heads. Far better to lose part of your tail than lose your head!

Given trees and ponds, the remarkable gray treefrogs will survive. Long may they trill!

Listen to the trill at www.naturenorth.com/spring/sound/Gray_Treefrog.mp3

And more frog calls here: https://www.trentu.ca/biology/berrill/frog_calls/Frog_calls.htm

Treefrog Photo Gallery

Gray treefrog calling Gray treefrog in gray garb Gray treefrog in green garb Male treefrog calling Treefrog climbing Treefrog clinging Treefrog underbelly
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Gray treefrog in green garb

 

About the Author More by Don Scallen

Don Scallen enjoys sharing his love of nature through his writing and presentations. Check out his blog "Notes from the Wild".

Comments

4 Comments

  1. Hi Don,
    It is December now and I’m missing our froggy fun at the pond. Although 🙂 I did see a tadpole on the weekend! It was such a beautiful day, I guess he couldn’t resist a late swim?

    I am just writing to urge your readers and other water watchers to listen to your recording of the tree frog call. We are bird watchers and were at a loss to locate the ‘bird’ making the trilling call. Much earlier we had seen a kingfisher fly out making what we thought was a similar call so we assumed the new sound might be a kingfisher. But, try as we may, we just couldn’t get a bird to flush from the trees whence came the call.

    Much later, but still in breeding season, for some reason, I got a brain wave, wondering, could it be a frog?? and of course it was. I am pretty sure that I spotted a tree frog in the pond as it was gray and totally unlike our leopard and green frogs. And happily, the wildlife id count continues to increase each year in the country.
    Thanks for your edifying articles.

    Cheryl Bailey from Adjala/Tos on Dec 8, 2015 at 9:55 pm | Reply

    • Hi Cheryl,

      When I was a boy, “quacking” at a local pond had me scratching my head. I would approach the pond, seeking ducks that I would never find. It took me a while, but I finally figured out that the “ducks” were actually wood frogs!
      Similarly gray tree frogs often mislead birders. They sometimes perch high in trees and, if the mood strikes them, trill away. (No doubt smiling at the confusion of the birders far below!)
      When you hear the trilling of tree frogs next spring – hopefully at your pond – see if you can find them with a flashlight. They are beautiful creatures and when full of springtime ardour, will often continue to call as you watch.
      Thanks for your comment!
      Don Scallen

      Don Scallen on Dec 9, 2015 at 4:21 pm | Reply

  2. Don, your posts are lovely.

    It is such a pleasure to read them. The creative way you present the information is so welcome, as is the information. Although I knew tree frogs existed, I knew very little about them. I confess I didn’t know anything about fairy shrimp.
    What fun to learn about them through wonderful text and photography.

    With thanks,
    Rosaleen

    Rosaleen Egan from Alliston, ON on Jun 8, 2015 at 12:16 pm | Reply

    • Nice to hear from you again Rosaleen! And thank you again for your kind words. I hope through my blog entries and feature stories to inspire at least some folks to think about the natural world – a world of wonder, filled with plants and animals living fascinating lives.

      cheers,
      Don

      Don Scallen on Jun 9, 2015 at 1:16 pm | Reply

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