I enjoy pretty much everything there is that has to do with the outdoors. Some of my most peaceful moments have been while walking through the forest, sitting on a beach, or boating (minus the loud engine). Accordingly I have a great respect for nature and enjoy learning about the plants and wildlife therein. My plan is to continue that learning process and hopefully enhance it by sharing what I learn. I intend for this blog to serve many purposes, but in the immediate future it will be a place for me, and hopefully others, to share ideas about reducing our individual impact on this planet, protecting wild spaces, and in general just to comment on the things we enjoy most in the great outdoors. I welcome all opinions as otherwise you cannot consider every aspect of a subject. However, I would ask that every opinion be expressed in a respectful way and considered with an open mind. Often there is no single right answer. Thanks.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pacific Tree Frog

In mid-September I put my rusty, frog catching abilities to the test when my brother-in-law spotted a frog near a pile of firewood we were moving.  Unfortunately my kids were not around and I really wanted to show it to them so I quickly scooped it up and started calling them.  The poor little fellow was not overly happy to be cocooned in my hands but held still long enough for the kids to have a look  I had to re-catch it a couple of times so the kids each had a chance to hold it and then, after a quick photo-op, we released it and watched it hop away.  At one point I caught it mid-jump and I can still feel the sticky pads of its feet on my hand as it muscled its way up over the edge of my palm. 

A slightly blurry picture of a Pacific Tree Frog (only had the phone camera handy - as usual)

I already love these cute, little frogs (which only grow 3-5cm in length) so it was a pleasure to learn a bit more about them.  They can range in colour from emerald green to light brown, but the dark stripe extending from their nostrils, through their eye, to their shoulder is their most distinguishing characteristic.  I found a great Pacific Tree Frog factsheet on a British Columbia ministry website from which I learned that the Pacific Tree Frog is considered a "yellow-listed" species in BC.  This means they are quite common and are managed at the ecosystem level.  Protecting the shallow wetlands they use for breeding and laying eggs is most important.  According to some information I found on wikipedia they are considered a keystone species due to their importance in the food chain.  While the adult frogs eat spiders and insects their predators include a variety of snakes, birds, mammals and amphibians.

Pacific Tree Frogs breed in the late winter, or early spring depending on the local weather conditions.  They make their way to shallow wetlands where the females lay anywhere from 10-90 eggs each.  Shallow wetlands are ideal as the water usually dries up by summer, making the site uninhabitable for a couple of possible predators, such as fish and bullfrogs. As you can imagine the eggs, tadpoles, and the 1cm size frog that leaves the water within a couple of months, would all be quite vulnerable.  Outside of breeding season these frogs can make their homes in a wide range of habitats, including the flower pot in your backyard. 

The Pacific Tree Frog factsheet also has a little map showing where these frogs can be found in British Columbia.  They are also found south along the west coast of the United States as far as Mexico, and were apparently introduced to Haida Gwaii by a kid who released a jar full of tadpoles he had collected on Vancouver Island.  If you live in these areas keep your ears open for the distinct sound of these frogs, which is quite loud given their size.  According to a couple of websites I came across their call is commonly used as background noise in movies.

A Pacific Tree Frog photo found on wikipedia

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