Signs of Spring

Here in New Jersey the wind still roars, but in North Carolina, wildlife photographer Wes Deyton shares the Spring Peepers and Painted Turtles that are in view now that it’s warming up.

Spring Peeper with full vocal sac by Wes Deyton

Spring Peeper with full vocal sac by Wes Deyton

As you can see from the photo above, the Spring Peeper has a fully extended vocal sac for calling, but as Wes came in closer, it began to retract.

Spring Peeper with retracting vocal sac by Wes Deyton.

Spring Peeper with retracting vocal sac by Wes Deyton.

Last night Wes was able to trek into the woods and capture this fantastic video of a Spring Peeper calling.


Also at Harris Lake in North Carolina are Painted Turtles.

Painted Turtle at Harris Lake in North Carolina, by wildlife photographer Wes Deyton

Painted Turtle at Harris Lake in North Carolina, by wildlife photographer Wes Deyton


Learn more about Spring Peepers here: Celebrating Spring Peepers 

and Frog Call of the Week: Spring Peepers

Click to see more of >> Wes Deyton’s wildlife photography


Bullfrogs, Toads and Grey Tree Frogs in Massachusetts

The story continues with Jack Stearns, a scientist and meteorologist in Massachusetts, who had rescued a Bullfrog (Bartholomew) last Winter, updates us on his progress along with a discovery of Grey Tree Frogs in the area.

Bart must be happy back in his pond as my wife hears deep croaking when she walks by the pond at lunch time. It has to be Bart! Also seen has been a big bullfrog near the spot where we let him go and he makes quite a splash when he jumps into the pond.
Another story involves a Gray Tree Frog. My wife works as a receptionist and is located in a huge lobby which has a big indoor garden, complete with trees and many plants. A couple of years ago a Gray Tree Frog got in and took up residence and proceeded to serenade the guards at night. It took them months to figure out what the noise was since the chirping resonates in the big lobby. He only hibernated for two months and came out in February to start singing again. It was weird to see snow falling and hearing this frog chirp. In fact, that was his name, Chirp.

He disappeared in the spring and we figure he got out the same way he got in, under the door that is right by the indoor garden.

Grey Tree Frog in Massachusetts by Jack Stearns
Well it looks like history is repeating itself. Above is a picture of a very young tree frog who got into the lobby. After this picture was taken he proceeded to scurry up the wall behind him into the indoor garden. Apparently a few others have been seen entering as well, especially at night. No noise yet, but I figure that by early spring there will be another chorus of tree frogs in the solarium. There is plenty for them to eat as they have been observed close to the outdoor window, snagging bugs that land there.
The frog population may be declining but not around where my wife works. The underground garage has lots of toads in the summer season who know that bugs are attracted by the lights and the toads come in for a quick meal. Everyone is careful of the toads when walking around the garage and there have been very few fatalities.
— Jack Stearns


Calling Amphibian Monitoring Project (CAMP)

The Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ coordinates the statewide Calling Amphibian Monitoring Program (CAMP). The object of this program is to assess the distribution, abundance, and health of New Jersey’s amphibians. This is part of a larger initiative called the North American Amphibian Monitoring Program (NAAMP) and the data collected in New Jersey will be submitted into the National database.


Each of the 16 species of frogs and toads in New Jersey has a unique vocalization or “call” that can be heard during their mating season.

Here’s a list and call quiz of the Frogs in New Jersey:
Eastern Spadefoot (Scaphiopus holbrookii)
American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus)
Fowler’s Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri)
Northern Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans)
Pine Barrens Treefrog (Hyla andersonii)
Green Treefrog (Hyla cinerea)
Gray Treefrog (Hyla versicolor)
unknown gray treefrog species (Hyla chrysoscelis/versicolor)
Cope’s Gray Treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis)
Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer)
New Jersey Chorus Frog (Pseudacris kalmi)
American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus)
Carpenter Frog (Lithobates virgatipes)
Green Frog (Lithobates clamitans)
Wood Frog (Lithobates sylvaticus)
Southern Leopard Frog (Lithobates sphenocephalus)
Pickerel Frog (Lithobates palustris)

The Amphibians that are listed as Endangered or Threatened in New Jersey:

Endangered Amphibians
Salamander, blue-spotted – Ambystoma laterale
Salamander, eastern tiger – Ambystoma tigrinum
Treefrog, southern gray – Hyla chrysocelis

Threatened Amphibians
Salamander, eastern mud – Pseudotriton montanus
Salamander, long-tailed – Eurycea longicauda
Treefrog, pine barrens – Hyla andersonii

Volunteers participating in the CAMP project conduct roadside surveys (after dusk) for calling amphibians along designated routes throughout the state. Each 15-mile route is surveyed three times during the spring (March, April & June), during the given four week period. Each route has 10 stops, where you stop, listen and record for 5 minutes. A structured protocol is followed to determine which nights to survey, how long to survey, which species are calling, and how to estimate the total number of individuals calling at each site. All volunteers receive a Calls of NJ Frogs and Toads, CD with which to familiarize themselves with the calls.

The results of these surveys will provide ENSP (Endangered and Nongame Species Program) and the United States Geological Survey with valuable data on the calling amphibian populations in New Jersey. Because each route will be surveyed at the same time and for the same amount of time, routes can be directly compared within a given year and between years. This allows for trends in populations to be identified over time and if needed steps may be taken to protect these populations in the near future.

— Larissa Smith, Biologist/Volunteer Manager, Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ


Learning How Frogs See and Hear

Guest post by Wes Deyton

How Frogs See

Frogs, due to the positioning and design of their eyes have nearly a 360 degree view. This makes up for the fact that they are not able to turn their head and look behind them like other animals can. Frogs, with their nearly 360 degree of field of view, make it difficult for predators to sneak up on them. Frogs also are unable to move their eyes within their eye sockets like humans and other animals can. This causes a Frog to have to turn his head to line up with it’s prey.


Frogs cannot see while they are attacking prey, so they must have their prey lined up when they go in for the strike. They are unable see their prey while they are making a strike, because when their sticky tongue comes out to snatch up an insect, their eyes retract into the top of their head.

Frogs are near-sighted and they do not see very well at a distance. Their eyes are extremely sensitive to movement, so if a frog’s prey does not move, they will not detect it. They also have excellent night vision, due to a mirror like layer in the back of their eye called a Tapetum. The Tapetum helps frogs reflect and collect ambient light between the back of the eye and the frog’s cornea. Frogs also use their eyes in a rather interesting way. They are unable to swallow like humans and other animals, so they actually push their eyes down into their head to push their food into their stomach.

Frogs eyes come in all different colors, from copper to bronze, gold to silver, and orange to red, like the Red-Eyed Tree Frog. They have three different eye lids. The third eye lid is the most interesting which is a clear membrane, and is called a Nictitating membrane, and this eye lid helps the frog to see underwater as well as to hide from predators.

How Frogs Hear

If you have ever been outside on a warm night you know just how loud Frogs and Toads can be. Male Frogs and Toads call to attract females. Below is a video of an American Toad calling to attract a mate.

You can see in the video, a Toad’s eardrum is the circular indention behind their eyes. You can also tell from the video, this toad calls quite loudly. Frogs and Toads are able to call at upwards of 90 decibels. They have quite sensitive hearing, so the question is, how do they not damage their eardrums or deafen themselves with their loud calls?

Scientists have discovered that Frogs hear with both their ear drums and their lungs and a pressure system builds inside the Frog that minimizes vibrations from internal noises made by the frog.

To further elaborate on this, I need to talk about how a frogs ear drum works. A frog’s ear drum is called a Tympanum and works in very much the same way that our human ear drums work. A frog’s ear drum, just like a humans ear drum, is a membrane that is stretched across a ring of cartilage like a snare drum that vibrates. There is rod that is connected to the ear drum, which vibrates by sounds that come at the frog. That sound is just pressure waves. The rod sloshes around in the inner ear fluid, which causes microscopic hairs to move, which send signals to the frog’s brain for interception. A frog’s ear lungs also vibrate when sound waves come toward it, although they are less sensitive than the frogs ear drum.

Earth Day poster with frog photographer, Wes Deyton and designed by Susan Newman

Some frogs, like the Spring Peeper, pictured, have a call that is so loud, they can be heard up to one mile away. These creatures are so noisy, it is a wonder that they do not hurt their ears and deafen themselves with their own calls. Frogs have a very clever method of making sure that their own loud calls do not hurt their own hearing.

In 1988, Scientist Peter Narins, who is a professor at UCLA of Physiological Science, found that frogs have an internal pressure system, a closed air loop, that keeps the frog’s own ear drum from vibrating excessively from its own call. Scientists have found that pressure builds between their lungs and ear drum, which then equalizes the pressure between the inner and outer surfaces of the frogs ear drum, which greatly cuts down on the vibrations that a frog experiences, from their internal calls. It is also believed that another purpose of the closed loop pressure system, is so Frogs can detect the direction a sound is coming from with its lungs, that way they can escape danger while calling. Being in the vicinity of a frogs calling can subject a human to sounds so loud, that are upwards of 90 dB, which can cause discomfort and hearing loss for humans.

Sources: April Holladay: Frogs Can Hear Without Ears. 4/26/2001. Wes Deyton’s blog at Last Mile Photography


Pickerel Frog Calling

Guest post by Wes Deyton, North Carolina.

Pickerel Frog (Rana palustris) by Wes Deyton, North Carolina.

Pickerel Frog (Rana palustris) by Wes Deyton, North Carolina.

The Pickerel frog is a small frog that can be found all throughout North America. It can be found from Maine to North Georgia. It is identified by what looks to be hand drawn squares on their bodies. Now that the weather is warming up, the frogs are back out and calling. Male frogs call during this time of the year in order to attract the female Frogs.

I took this video in a pond behind my house using a Canon Rebel T4i and Canon 100mm Macro Lens.

From Wikipedia, a cool fact about the Pickerel Frog (Rana palustris):
The skin secretions of a stressed pickerel frog are known to be toxic to other frogs, as many a novice frog catcher has found when he finds only the pickerel frog still alive in his bucket. These secretions can also be moderately irritating if they come in contact with the eyes, mucous membranes, or broken skin.

About Wes Deyton, nature photographer in North Carolina:
Wes Deyton, nature photographer in North CarolinaMy name is Wes Deyton. I live in Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina.  I love to take my camera out into the woods and look for wildlife to photograph. I have a website www.lastmilephotography.com and a Facebook page with tons of Frog, Bird, and other wildlife pictures.


A – Z Frog Species: Spring Peeper – Pseudacris crucifer

Spring Peeper

Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer) is a tiny little chorus frog found across most of the eastern U.S. and Canada. Tan with a dark cross on its back they are often less than an inch in length. Making home to a number of wetland environments they prefer semi-wooded areas and must lay their eggs in an aquatic location. Feeding on a variety of invertebrates they can often be found near lights in warm summer months where all sorts of bugs gather. Capable of surviving temperatures as low as -8 dC they hibernate under logs or beneath lose bark. One of the greatest sounds of spring, their call, signals warm weather is here!

Coyote Peterson with frog
New series by guest blogger, Coyote Peterson, Coyote Peterson Brands, LLC.