Thursday, April 22, 2010

Chirping Frogs

Along with other Master Naturalists, I attended the "Amphibian Watch" class offered by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.  The state biologists played the vocalization of an introduced, tropical frog, whose presence was suspected, but had not been confirmed, for our Galveston County.  Everyone in the class had heard the sound before.  It is a pleasant, musical, chirping and trilling. 
    When I indicated that I had photographs of the critter that made that sound, the teachers were interested.   So I forwarded some of the pictures to them for confirmation.  Sure enough.  My pics confirmed what our ears already knew. Chirping frogs live in Galveston County.
    Tiny "Rio Grande Chirping Frogs," Syrrhophus cystignathoides  are unusual because their entire metamorphosis occurs inside the egg!  When the egg hatches, a tiny frog - not a tadpole - comes out.  Thus, they do not need a pond, just moist earth or a potted plant.  The frog is native to Mexico and the extreme southern tip of Texas.  They are traveling with the tropical plant trade.   So far, these musical little  fellows do not seem invasive or harmful to their new environments, but they are establishing new populations so TPWD is monitoring.  Maybe they will harmlessly fill a niche, as Cattle Egrets have done.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Worm-eating Warbler

My husband heard a loud "thump" on our front door.  He opened the door to see who had knocked.  Unfortunately, this lovely little Worm-eating Warbler, Helmintheros vermivorus, was on the stoop.  These birds do not dwell in Galveston County, they migrate through.  I had never seen a bird like this before and had to reach for my guide book to identify him.   I figure he had finished his winter stint in Mexico or Central America and was enroute to a northern state.  Perhaps he had paused to scratch in our yard for beetles and spiders.  Maybe the reflections on our door were confusing and he thought he was flying into the sky.  Poor guy.  I can report that after resting for about 15 minutes, he did fly away.  We wish him well.