The highlight of recent walks has been a frenzied spring chorus emanating from dozens of American toads in shallow waters. Breeding season! The toads are extremely active in the late morning sun and warmth, perching, calling, chasing and breeding. Sometimes the water is “boiling” with breeding activity as several males battle over a female. The mating calls, loud trilling sounds lasting several seconds, are one of the more distinct and pleasing sounds of spring.
This is their story, as I’ve observed it, among emerging cattails in the shallow water of the Chenango Canal in Central new York.
Actual breeding, referred to as amplexus, involves the male grasping the larger, more colorful female and fertilizing her double strand of gelatinous eggs as they are extruded.
I walk often, usually traveling short distances on local trails. Late Spring is a wonderful time to do this because there’s so much going on in the world of wildlife.
Wildlife populations are approaching their annual peak as new recruits arrive daily!
Juvenile Red Squirrel
Songbirds are in various stages of nesting: some are building nests, some are sitting on eggs, some are feeding young. Regardless of the species, males can usually be heard singing on the nesting territories.
Chestnut-sided Warbler above a dense thicket of shrubs and young trees
Great Crested Flycatcher nesting in a “Bluebird” box (1 of 3)
Reptiles and amphibians have come alive in the summer-like heat. This American Toad has claimed my compost pile as home.
Reptiles and amphibians are very active this time of year, foraging and searching for suitable wintering habitat. This morning I intercepted 4 toads, 2 frogs and a snake as I dug and hauled loads of coarse soil and stone for hardening the tread of my nature trail.
All of the toads were small; 2 could sit on the end of my thumb with room to spare. This one was less than 2 inches long and much smaller than a full-grown adult.