The bright sunshine dims as the dark clouds gather overhead. The birds continue to sing but the tune changes as they signal their mates to come to shelter from the rain. As the flocks gather the forest falls silent but only for a moment. A lone tree frog drones out from somewhere among the leaves and branches. The rain comes softly at first but soon the heavens open up and sheets of water pound the forest. It doesn’t last long. The cloudburst is over as quickly as it began. The water collects and pools on the forest floor where the thick canopy of trees prevents it from drying up. The water isn’t really deep enough to be what most people would call a pond. It’s really more of a ditch but it is full of life. Tiny little fish-like creatures dart about through leaf litter on the bottom grazing on algae and snagging the occasional mosquito larvae.
When I was a kid there was a huge puddle out in the woods and it was always full of tadpoles and newts. As your shadow fell across the water the puddle would almost look as if it was boiling from all the sudden movement. In addition to the newts the tadpoles came from tree frogs and leopard frogs. It was practically an amphibian city with tadpoles in various stages of development. The surrounding forest was always full tree frogs and even to this day one of the most peaceful things in my life is laying in bed and listening to the tree frogs sing me to sleep. Even as I write this article there’s a tree frogs just outside my window singing.
There’s actually two types of tree frogs that frequent my home. The Eastern Gray Tree frog and Cope’s. To look at these two species you can’t tell the difference. In fact it wasn’t until we developed genetic testing that we knew for sure it was two unrelated species. But there is a way to tell the difference without trying to get a frog to spit in a cup. The two frogs sing a very different songs. Cope’s Gray Tree Frog has more of a trill where The Eastern Gray Tree frog has more of a warble sound.
By standing on my porch and listening I can tell that I have one male Eastern Gray Tree Frog in the front yard and Two of the Cope’s Gray Tree Frogs, one in back of the house and one down near the marsh off to the side. I’m guessing that the only way to know how many and what species females there are would be venture outside and see who shows up to each call.
As I lay here in my recliner listening to the lullaby/love songs of the tree frogs the peaceful feeling overcomes me and I must bid you a good night.
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