Posts Tagged ‘American Toad’


Viceroy (Limenitis archippus)

When I’m walking or working in the garden, I always keep my camera close at hand, because you never know who you might see. The garden plays host to an awesome assortment of creatures. Many garden inhabitants live hidden lives and remain invisible, their presence undetected by we mere humans. Others are more amenable to photography, or at least are engrossed in their own activities and pay no heed to the photographer.

No pesticides of any sort, toxic or organic, are used in my garden. Life is too precious. Plants that don’t thrive in this ecosystem are replaced with more tolerant species. Here is a selection of photographs of garden life. It is by no means all-inclusive. Some visitors are heard, but not seen, so the closing entry is a short recording of a black-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus erythropthalmus), ho-ho-hoing softly from shrubbery.


Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis)

white admiral

White Admiral (Limenitis arthemis)



Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)


Canadian Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio canadensis)


Banded Hairstreak (Satyrium calanus)


Common Wood-Nymph (Cercyonis pegala)


Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa)


Skipper sp.


Green Frog (Rana clamitans melanota)


American Toad (Bufo americanus)


Baby Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina)


Eastern Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis)


Dragonfly, Meadowhawk sp.


Virginia Ctenucha moth (Ctenucha virginica)


Yellow Crab Spider (Misumena vatia) with prey

mountain ash sawfly larvae

Mountain Ash Sawfly larvae (Pristiphora geniculata)


Bumblebee (Bombus sp)


Mayfly (order Ephemeroptera)


Hummingbird Clearwing Hawkmoth (Hemaris thysbe)


Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus)


Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris ) female


Cedar Waxwing pair (Bombycilla cedrorum)

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Spring Peeper

Spring Peeper

Spring Peeper

Spring Peeper

Would you guess that this tiny frog makes a huge noise? Once the Wood frogs and Chorus frogs have sung the first verse of the spring song, the Spring Peepers (Pseudacris crucifer) and American Toads (Bufo americanus) take over. I strolled down to our wet spot behind the barn the other evening to make this recording of peeps and trills. The peeps are the song, of course, of the Spring Peepers, while the extended trills are American Toads.

Beautiful, an annual miracle. Near the end of the recording, you can hear a flock of Canada Geese passing overhead. At the beginning and end of the recording are a few notes of birdsong. Seabrooke, with her more attuned ear, informs me that the former is a Song Sparrow, and the latter is a Common Yellowthroat. Thanks to Seabrooke for the photos of Peepers and Toads.

For more on Spring Peepers, follow this link to Seabrooke’s post This ones for my peeps.

For more on American Toads, follow this link to Warts and all.


American Toad

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By August, our small, decorative garden pond is looking lush. I purchased a single water hyacinth and one lone water lettuce plant in the spring, and by now these prolific multipliers have covered the surface of the pond. They provide good cover for the frogs that take up residence in the pond for the summer months.


The pond attracts young Bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana) and Green frogs (Rana clamitans melanota). With a casual glance, it is easy to miss the well-disguised pond residents, but a more lingering examination of the water surface will usually reveal a few amphibians warily watching the watcher.


Green frogs and Bullfrogs are similar, but the green on the Bullfrog’s face is broader and shades into his body colour, while the bright green on the Green Frog’s face more closely resembles a moustache. Also, you can easily see the distinctive line formed by the dorsolateral fold running along the upper side of the Green Frog.


The frogs can be spotted sitting on the log that is partly submerged in the pond, or seated on the rocks encircling the edge of the pond. Smaller frogs rest on the water lettuce leaves.


Others are camouflaged floating amongst the leaves.


Hey! That’s not a frog, that’s a toad! An American Toad, Bufo americanus, to be more precise.


Though I often come across toads in the garden, it is unusual to see one by the pond. This fellow has obviously been swimming. Perhaps the drought we have been experiencing has made him seek out moisture.

Here’s another visitor doing some frogspotting. He has frog legs in mind for dinner.


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At this time of year, country nights are not quiet. The air is filled with music, a cacophony of voices celebrating the renewal of life. I braved the mosquitos to record their song just as darkness was falling. You can hear the Peep! Peep! of the Spring Peepers (Pseudacris crucifer); the short, throbbing trills of the Gray Treefrogs (Hyla versicolor); and the longer, extended trills of American Toads (Bufo americanus). The Adopt-a-Pond website offers excellent information about the amphibians of Ontario and you can listen to recordings of each species’ song. Not all frogs sing at the same time of year. The Wood Frogs are the first voices of spring, and then the Spring Peepers. The Bullfrogs are later, singing into summer.

Over the chorus of frogs is a recording of an American Woodcock (Scolopax minor) performing his mating display. Listen for his call, a nasal Peent! … Peent! … Peent! given from a grassy field. At 1:36, he begins his aerial display. Listen for the whirring of his wings as he flys high into the night sky. Three of his outer primary feathers are modified to produce a whistling flight sound. I could hear him as he continues his flight, but unfortunately the sound doesn’t come through on the recording until about 2:20, when the whistling begins to sputter and he gives a series of chirps as his flight ends in a ‘falling leaf’ descent to the ground. What female could fail to be impressed?

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Rainy Day Toad

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Green Frog (Rana clamitans melanota)

Herpetology is the study of amphibians and reptiles. What an amazing group these critters are. Amphibians undergo an astounding transformation, growing from waterbabies into air-breathing creatures over the course of their life cycle. Reptiles include some of the most ancient of animal species. Some fascinate us, others repel us. All play an important role in their respective ecosystems.

Now there is a new blog carnival to celebrate herps and bring together interesting posts from the blogosphere in one handy location. Please visit the first carnival ever at House of Herps for encounters with some cool animals and great writers. There’s even an irreverent, but not irrelevant, clip from South Park.

American Toad (Bufo americanus)

View Ted’s (Beetles in the Bush) candidate for North America’s most beautiful lizard, the Eastern Collared Lizard that he photographed in Oklahoma. Admire Kenton and Rebeccas’ (Wild About Nature) ambassador corn snakes. Read Hugh’s (Rock Paper Lizard) book review of Snakebit: Confessions of a Herpetologist by Leslie Anthony. This is just a tiny sampling of the great posts “packaged” on the carnival ready for you to open.

There is also information from Amphibian Ark, a conservation effort whose introduction begins: The world’s amphibians are disappearing. More than one hundred species may have already gone extinct and thousands more are threatened with extinction. Many of the threatened species cannot be safeguarded in the wild and require management away from their natural habitat if they are to persist. Aside from their obvious appeal to nearly all humans, amphibians play a critical role in the global ecosystem, provide us with important pharmaceuticals, and may act as our environmental barometers. There is simply too much at stake in losing them.

Willow House is represented by a post about snapping turtles. The frogs shown on this post were photographed here in September.

Northern Leopard Frog (Rana pipiens)

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Okay, bad pun, but it is nice to find a little Gray Treefrog (Hyla versicolor) nestled onto the sill of the screen door. This little guy (or girl? Females are larger than males and this one was quite big.) spent the day there and moved on some time in the night. Gray Treefrogs are noted for the large adhesive pads on the tips of their toes, which are just visible on this individual. They also have notable colour-changing abilitiy, and the same frog may vary from light gray to brown to pale green. Changing colour takes a bit of time, an hour or more, depending on factors such as the temperature. It is not uncommon to come across an occasional representative of the species through the summer, when they are found in deciduous or mixed forests, woodlots, swamps, old fields and even suburban yards with appropriate plant cover and breeding territory nearby. However, the time when Gray Treefrogs really make their presence known is the spring. If you are near a wetland on a spring evening, especially one ringed with willows and dogwood, you are likely to hear the short trills of Gray Treefrogs ringing out into the night.


Just beyond the doorway, American Toads ((Bufo americanus) are common in and around the garden. This was a mid-sized specimen, perhaps a young toad of this year. Toads are regarded as garden helpers as they eat a variety of insects, spiders and slugs. A few days ago, I spied a garter snake making off with a small toad in its mouth. I resisted the urge to try to save the little toad, which we tend to identify with. Snakes need to eat too.


This fine big Green Frog (Rama clamitans) was just outside the front door last Saturday. It didn’t seem bothered by having a photographer leaning over it and had to be encouraged to move into the garden where it was safer. You can clearly see the dorsolateral fold, the ridge of skin that extends from each eye to about one-half to two-thirds of the way down the back, and around the rear of the tympanum. In mature males, the throat is bright yellow, while females have light yellow or cream-coloured throats. This seems to be a female.

One evening when I turned the porch light on, I noticed the individual below sitting on the step. It’s colour doesn’t identify its species as readily as is the case with the amphibians above. Another Green Frog maybe? It does seem to have a green lip.


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Toad on Boot




Toad in Boot

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This weekend, Birdgirl and I made a trip back to the old homestead in the Toronto area. Friday night was mild, and Birdgirl set up her mothing sheets. While out checking the sheets, it was apparent that the warm weather was prompting the toads in the area to move to breeding ponds. On Saturday, it was warm and sunny and the trills of male toads calling from the vernal pool announced that the breeding season for the Eastern American Toad (Bufo americanus americanus) was moving into high gear. Birdgirl and I waded through the mud to check out the pond and were able to see numerous toads intent on attracting a mate. Males generally arrive at the breeding site before females, and we only saw one female. She was the object of a lot of male attention! The photo above shows the competition amongst her suitors. The males are noticeably smaller than the female. The tan-coloured male held on tenaciously and eventually came away the winner.


Toads prefer to breed in shallow, temporary pools. During amplexus the male grasps the female’s body from above and can fertilize the female’s eggs externally as they are laid. Toad eggs are laid in two gelatinous strings and a female may lay from 2000 to over 20,000 eggs. The small blackish tadpoles hatch in 2 to 14 days, depending on water temperature. They will eat algae and planktonic organisms and soft vegetation as they grow. Tadpoles transform into tiny toadlets in 6 to 10 weeks. Only a few will survive the two to three years it takes to reach sexual maturity.

The male toad’s song is easy to recognize, a high-pitched extended trill that may last over 30 seconds. Pictured below is a trilling male. You can listen to the call at the Adopt-A-Pond site. Next weekend, May 2nd and 3rd, is the 10th Annual Spring Toad Festival at the Toronto Zoo in the America’s Wetlands. Also, April 28th, 2009 is the 1st Annual ‘Save The Frogs Day


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