Did you hear that there are free outdoor concerts playing all over town almost every night, starting in mid-January? Take an early evening walk near a wetland and you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about. What you will hear is a chorus of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of male Pacific treefrogs “singing” their annual mating songs. This lovely music can be quite loud since each calling frog amplifies its song by inflating a resonating throat sac—up to three times the size of its head!
You probably won’t see these singers in the dark, but if you want to look, treefrogs are about one and a half inches long, light green to brown, and have a dark stripe lined with white around their eyes. Treefrogs have sticky toe pads for climbing trees and sticky tongues for catching insects.
In our area, the Pacific treefrog breeding season starts in January. These little frogs can lay 400-750 eggs per season, which is a good thing, since very few eggs actually reach adulthood. As it turns out, frog eggs are a pretty tasty treat for predators, ponds can dry up, and pollution is a constant threat. Tadpoles have it rough as well, facing the same dangers as tiny eggs.
So where are the best seats in the house? A few good parks to hear frogs around town include: Amazon Park, the West Eugene Wetlands, Delta Ponds, Mt. Pisgah Arboretum, and Alton Baker Park. Don’t be surprised if the night seems silent at first when you visit. The frogs might be a little shy of you and your noise. Stop, stay quiet, and listen for a few minutes. What you will soon hear is as wonderful as a symphony. Click here to link to a YouTube video of a March 2011 frog serenade in Amazon Park!
* Photo courtesy of Bruce Newhouse